When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Rev 6:9-11)
On this side of death, there may be seasons when we struggle to maintain confidence in an all-present, all-powerful, all-knowing God who reigns supreme with perfect power and complete authority.
On this side of death, there are stormy days and dark nights that can strain our feeble grasp on the anchor of a Lord who is beyond reproach in his holiness and love.
On this side of death, there will be heartbreaking moments that shake the very foundations of faith in a King who is true and worthy of our trust.
On this side of death, believers must walk by faith.
But on the other side of death? How different is the story!
On the other side of death, faith is unnecessary. After all, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). On the other side of death, we will see.
On the other side of death, there is no reason to hope. “Hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?” (Rom 8:24). On the other side of death, hope will have been realized.
On the other side of death, the root of the obedience of faith will have borne the fruit of an eternal reward. “Be faithful unto death,” says our Savior, “and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev 2:10). On the other side of death, perfectly lit with eternal perspective, the heaviest earthly burdens will seem to have been strangely “light.” The longest, darkest, scariest valleys will be recognized as having been so very “momentary.” We will realize that even the most difficult afflictions experienced under the sun have ultimately served to prepare for us “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17). On the other side of death, it will be clear. The weight of our temporary crosses was as nothing when exchanged for the blessed weight of our Christ-given, faith-won crowns.
Revelation 6:9 envisions “the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.” Slain. What a terrible, violent word. Faith led them to their deaths. Conviction cost them their lives. But on the other side of death, there is no doubt in their minds. No wavering in their praise. Their dedication may have required the greatest of earthly sacrifices, but their God reigns and they have eternally conquered.
“O Sovereign Lord, holy and true…”
One day, there will be no doubt. Things hoped for will be things enjoyed. Conviction of things not seen will give way to realized satisfaction forever. The challenge today is to trust in what will be abundantly clear then. “For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor 4:18).