It’s funny how much the idea of home can change throughout our lives. For a long time, “home” for me was my hometown where I grew up in New York. Then my college town became a new home, then a small town in Alabama, and now Charlotte, North Carolina. My husband and I have definitely moved quite a bit throughout our 2 years of marriage, and I’m pretty sure God has more of that in store in our future as well. Each time we move, we try to make our new surroundings a place we can call home. It gets a little tiring honestly, moving to new places, finding a new church, making new friends, and setting up a new home each time. Blame it on unexpected living conditions or crazy pregnancy hormones (they are real!), but these days I find myself longing to be back in my hometown, to something familiar or picturing a time when we will be “settled.” However, I also know that when I do get a chance to go back to my hometown, that feeling of home only lasts so long, and feeling settled doesn’t quench the longing; it just makes it quieter. Quite simply, I’m homesick.
This longing only grows when times are more trying - when all you can see in front of you is a mountain of mess to climb. You start to question if God is really moving and working, if this time will ever end, if God is actually all powerful and good. Take heart; there is great comfort to be found! God knows the journey we are on and gives us encouragement in His word through the lives of others. For example, Paul is an apostle well acquainted with suffering. In fact, during the beginning chapters of his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul is defending his ministry because people were saying he had been afflicted with too much suffering to possibly be an apostle. Imagine: He was afflicted so greatly that people thought it could not possibly be God-ordained, but this is not how Paul saw it. He wrote,
“For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” - 2 Corinthians 1:8-9.
Paul knew that when faced even with death, he did not have to fear because his God, our God, is the God who raises the dead, and He has a greater glory for us to look to. God is not leaving us in the dust. He is teaching us to rely on Him.
Paul later goes on to say,
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” - 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.
I know most days I don’t think of my troubles as “light momentary afflictions,” but in reality, that is what they are when we have eyes to see what is ahead. Look where Paul is looking. He can’t physically see it, but he knows with certainty that God has prepared a home for us over these seemingly endless mountains we are climbing. Paul’s longing for home grows as he continues on. He says,
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling” - 2 Corinthians 5:1-2.
There is a wrestling within us, a longing for something more - for our home. But we can have courage on our journey knowing that there is indeed a resting place and that this longing has been purposely placed in us to drive our eyes toward the only One who can fully satisfy our hearts. So when we face the hurts, the mountains, the fears, and the doubts, remember they are truly only present in this momentary life, and they are not in vain. They are being used by God to constantly teach us to look to and rely on Him. The longing is there to remind you that you have been made for a greater glory. God Himself is preparing us through the trials for this coming glory, and in His great mercy, He has given us little tastes of home to encourage us all along the way, like the joy of sitting amongst friends and family or the simple sweetness of a visit to a loved and familiar place. We do not need to be discouraged when these moments don’t last; they are not meant to. Instead, let them fill you with courage and perseverance knowing that one day, we can truly be at home with the Lord.
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith not by sight. Yes we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” - 2 Corinthians 5:6-8.