When the Pain Is Over
.
        A hymn about the love of God expresses it very well: “The love of God is greater far Than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star, and reaches to the lowest hell. . . . Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made; Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.”1 Yes, God so loved the world that He gave His Son to come and die for us so we would not perish. He did not send His Son to condemn the world but that the world would be saved.
        Before expounding on the love of God, let me share some personal experiences. Seven years ago, my son died of Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 52 years old and a successful practicing physician with a team of doctors under him. The disease was gradual, with the muscles slowly deteriorating. He needed to be placed under hospice care in a hospital, and when the end was near, the family gathered around, and I lay down on his bed next to him. He was breathing heavily. I placed my head next to his, and with heartfelt tears prayed for him.
        When I finished and opened my eyes, he was dead. Looking directly into the face of my dead son was so painful I cannot describe it. At that moment, I thought of our heavenly Father and the heart pain He must have felt watching his Son suffer and die. He could have stopped everything, but He endured the pain and chose not to because of His love for us. Don’t you think that if I had had the power to stop the suffering of my son that I wouldn’t have? We seldom think of the emotional heart pain of God that continues even today as He feels the pain of a suffering world. Three years later, my wife passed away under similar circumstances. With such personal experiences as these as an introduction, let us look more closely at the depth of our heavenly Father’s love.
 
Eternity Past
        God brought Lucifer, His son of the morning, into the heavenly world. He gave him intelligence and honor above the angels and had him stand next to Christ as the anointed cherub. Lucifer had been created perfect. How the Father must have loved him and been pleased with him. But as it is in too many families, this son of His became proud. He wanted to sit where Christ sat and wanted the same power as God. Lucifer became a rebellious son and persuaded other angels to take his side.
        The Father exercised great patience and longed for Lucifer to come to his senses, like any earthly father would relate to a rebellious son. What pain there must have been in the heart of the Father, an incomprehensible and unimaginable pain.
        Why didn’t God destroy Lucifer at the first sign of rebellion? This would have created fear in the heavenly family. It called for enduring love and patience. Eventually, the Father had to ask Lucifer to leave, and when he refused, he had to be removed forcibly. Can you imagine how traumatic this must have been for our heavenly Father and the emotional suffering He experienced over this? Considering how painful some of our experiences are with rebellious children, it is only a small glimpse into the heart of God, who is so much more sensitive than we are. He is the one who has placed in our hearts as parents a love for our children that is a reflection of His love for all of us (Isa. 14:12–14; Rev. 12:7-9).
 
Calvary
        Another glimpse into the Father’s heart of love and the emotional pain He bore is seen in the crucifixion of His Son. Jesus wanted to prepare His disciples for what was coming, that He would suffer and die, but rise again and go back to His Father.
        This was difficult for the disciples to comprehend. Philip asked Him, “‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied’” (John 14:8, NLT).2 Jesus responded, “‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me’” (vss. 9–11).
        Carrying this thought through to Calvary, it is not only Christ who died for us, suffering all that physical torture, but the Father is inside of Him and feeling all that physical pain, not to mention the excruciating emotional pain. So not only did Jesus die for us, but from an emotional point of view, so did the Father.
        If we know what it is like to lose a suffering child or loved one and emotionally suffer with him or her through the pain, who can say that God is not love when He could have saved His Son and forgotten about this planet. But He endured it all and emotionally suffered through it all. Why would the great and powerful God of heaven do this? It was because of His love for us. This is beyond comprehension.
 
The Planet
        The Father’s love and care have not diminished since Calvary. He is the same tender and loving Father as ever; and consequently, His heart pain has not stopped when He sees men and women, children, and the elderly sick and suffering. How does He take all this?
        This is not to mention those who have been tortured and put to death, like His Son, because they were Christians and loved their heavenly Father. But He loves all people, whether they are Christians or not, because all are His. Then there is the meanness and cruelty, not to mention the wars that have taken the lives of millions, such as the Holocaust, which I personally experienced. And such things continue, only worse, considering modern weaponry.
        Why does God not put an end to all this suffering and end His own emotional pain? Knowing His love for us by living in His Son and enduring the pains of Calvary, we can trust our heavenly Father just as children trust their earthly father during a family crisis until it’s over, believing that he knows best.
 
Discipline
        All families have rules, and when those rules are ignored, disobeyed, or rebelled against, something must take place to preserve the family. Suppose the son in the family is very rebellious, leaves home, and is caught in a crime. He’s arrested and put in prison. His movements are restricted for a time, as Lucifer’s will be during the millennium. When the young man’s activities are investigated, it is found that he committed premeditated murder a number of times, and raped and tortured many people. The evidence is presented to the judge.
        The judge, together with the jury, finds the young man guilty and decides that he should be executed. As the family listens in pain to the undeniable evidence of the horrendous crimes, the judge asks the young man if he has anything to say. He defies the judge and answers hatefully. Will the family then say that the judge is unfair by ordering their son’s execution? So God will have to carry out the sentence of death on Lucifer and his demons, as the law demands.
 
The Happy Family
        When sin and sinners are no more, and Lucifer and his evil angels are forever gone from this planet and the universe, there will be unimaginable joy. The Father’s painful work will be over. He will celebrate and hold a feast because His family is safe and together forever. The Son of God is also full of joy and celebrates for His marriage to His dear bride, the church, is no longer threatened questioned (Luke 15:19, 20; 22:28–30).
        The pain of the past is over, just as a mother’s childbirth pains are over when the smiling baby rests in her arms and the proud father stands nearby with joy in his heart. This gives us an emotional glimpse into the future of a happy and joyful family.
        Yes, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, no more sorrow, pain, or death, for the former things are passed away (Rev. 21:1–4). There will be music in our hearts and on our lips. “There is singing up in heaven such as we have never known, Where the angels sing the praises of the Lamb upon the throne. . . . But when I sing redemption’s story, they will fold their wings, For angels never felt the joys that our salvation brings.”3

NOTES AND REFERENCES
        1. “The Love of God”: https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/28.
        2. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references in this column are quoted from The New Living Translation of the Bible.
        3. “Holy, Holy, Is What the Angels Sing,” The Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Publ. Assn., 1985), No. 425.