My family moved from Kansas City, Missouri to Raleigh, North Carolina five years ago. My oldest son Ethan was thirteen at the time. Transitioning to a new city was hardest on him.
Involuntarily being separated from his friends wasn’t fun. When we got to Raleigh, my younger boys quickly found friends their age and adapted to our new life. It just wasn’t as easy for Ethan.
Stephen and I worried for our son. He missed his old friends and wasn’t finding new ones fast enough for our liking. We prayed. We asked God to give him friends. Someone encouraged us to let this lonely season lead him to know Christ deeper, as his truest companion.
Ethan soon joined a football team and met a lot of other boys, but no actual friendships emerged. Then it happened. Ethan made a real friend. One of his teammates also went to the local church we were in the process of joining. A little while later, his second real friend came into the picture. He began to settle into our new life in Raleigh and continue to establish genuine friendships with his peers.
A ROOM FULL OF FRIENDS
This past weekend we celebrated Ethan’s eighteenth birthday. I lit the candles on his cake and my heart swelled at the scene before me. A room full of his friends—a room full of people I asked God to bring into Ethan’s life several years ago—were singing “Happy Birthday.”
As I sang the familiar tune, Ethan and I locked eyes for a few seconds. His smile was big. My eyes were glassy. I love this boy—now a man—so much, and I’m overwhelmed at God’s grace in his life.
The song ended as people clapped and cheered. Ethan blew out his candles, and Stephen and I began serving everyone cake. But my mind returned to a time five years ago, when my son didn’t have any friends and was lonely in a new city. My thoughts went to my fervent petitions to my heavenly father on behalf of my son. I recalled the last few years and the solid blessing Ethan’s friends have brought to his life. My soul cried out a simple “thank you” to God in that moment.
I wondered if God imagined this moment when I was begging him to give my son friends years ago. When he heard my plea and calmed my anxious heart, maybe he was thinking, “Oh child, just wait and see what I’ve got coming!”
IMAGINE SOMETHING BETTER
Had I known five years ago this was where we’d be today, that my son would have the best group of friends who encourage him in his faith and walk alongside him in it, I wouldn’t have fretted so much. If I had been able to envision this room full of teenagers laughing and loving my son, maybe I would have thought, “Okay, this is hard right now, but just wait and see. It gets so much better!”
How often could this mindset apply to other areas in my life? So often, I lack imagination for what’s to come. I’m blinded by the reality of my present circumstances. But as Christians, we’re called to a better vision. We look to the things we can’t fully see yet. “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. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
Our afflictions prepare us for incomparable future glory. They invite us to look beyond. We must resist the temptation to allow present realities to consume our viewpoint. We’re called to look to the things that are unseen and eternal. In our lack, we’re charged with imagining God’s supply. He gives us the grace to behold future glory.
A FAITH-FUELED VISION
Our eyes are not anchored in what’s easily seen. Our faith-fueled vision beckons us to see what’s coming. God’s word paints an indescribable picture for us to set our hopes on. The best is yet to come! This is our rally cry today. This is what gives us hope when we’re on our knees pleading with our father to make it better. We know it will be better.
It felt good to watch my son, serenaded and surrounded by a group of godly friends. But I know that feeling can’t compare with the future that awaits me. With the inheritance that is mine in Christ Jesus. That good feeling I had at his party only intensified my longing for the future good promised to me and all who trust Christ for their righteousness.
Some moments, like Ethan’s party, are so good, but the Lord transforms my gratitude into longing for him and an even better good that awaits. Other moments, like the ones spent on my knees asking God for help, prepare me for future glory. The vision of it sustains me in my afflictions, no matter how light or temporary they might be.
The best is yet to come! Wait for it. Expect it. Believe in its certainty. Our best moments here are only a foretaste of the best in heaven. And our worst moments here prepare us to one day receive and enjoy the best of heaven—Jesus Christ.
The best is yet to come and he’s coming back for us. Of this we can be sure.
Christy Britton is a wife and mom to four boys. She writes Bible study curriculum for Docent Research Group and serves as the Discipleship Classes Coordinator for Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, N.C. She is an orphan advocate with 127 Worldwide and contributes administratively to bring pastor training opportunities to Africa for Acts 29. You can follow her on Twitter.