Revelation 19:6-9 – And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’” And he said to me, “These are the true sayings of God.”
- Reflect On: Revelation 19:6-9
- Praise God: Whose love endures forever.
- Offer Thanks: For Christ’s intimate love.
- Confess: Any distrust of God or His ways.
- Ask God: To help you perceive His faithfulness.
I sometimes wonder why I am so easily frustrated, so quick to complain. My computer breaks down, my call is routed to the wrong person, my car won’t start. Admittedly these are petty annoyances. But they feel so constant, like a stone in my shoe that I can’t shake out. I tell myself my outsized response to such things is not merely a symptom of immaturity but a sign that I may be suffering from a hidden condition. I call it paradisus absconditus, otherwise known as the “paradise lost syndrome.” You won’t find it listed in a medical dictionary, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Let me explain. You may have heard of something called “phantom limb syndrome,” a condition in which a person feels sensation in an amputated limb. Maybe paradise lost syndrome works in a similar way. But rather than experiencing sensation in a body part we no longer possess, we experience sensation about a state of being we no longer possess. My theory is this—…we have an instinct that tells we belong [in paradise], and when that instinct is thwarted, as it always is, we feel frustrated, cheated, and disappointed. Everyday life contradicts our secret or not-so-secret belief that we were meant to live as the fairy tales tell us—happily ever after. And happily ever after often involves our longing for the perfect relationship, one guaranteed to make us happy.
Our instinct for paradise will serve us well if it leads to the realization that our true happiness lies neither in perfect circumstances nor in finding the perfect relationship here on earth. Instead it lies in restoring the most important relationship we will ever have, one fractured in Eden and whose brokenness has spread to every other relationship in our lives.
Over and over, the Hebrew scriptures present Israel’s relationship with God in the most intimate terms possible. He is not just Maker and Lord but also Israel’s Husband. But it also describes this as a troubled marriage because even though God is a perfect Lover, His people are not. Instead, they are broken, infected by sin, unable to trust, seduced by other gods. But still the Lord persists in loving them. Intent on restoring the relationship, He sends prophets to call them back and troubles to bring them home. But nothing works for long. So in a final act of mercy He sends His own Son.
This is why the Bible is best understood, neither as a book of rules nor as a compendium of wisdom, but as a love story, prolonged and painful but one that ends on a tremendous note of joy with the greatest of all celebrations: the wedding feast of the Lamb. This is also why the New Testament reveals Jesus as the Bridegroom whom the church awaits with longing. He is the promise we hope for, the purpose for which we were made. He is the One who is able to deal with our brokenness, to heal our sin, and to woo us back to Himself through His powerful, self-sacrificing love. He is the paradise we seek.
Today as you suffer life’s small indignities, don’t allow them to become a source of continual frustration; instead, let them remind you of your longing for something more. Ask the Lord to help you turn your frustrations into occasions for praise as you express your desire to take part one day in the greatest of all celebrations, the wedding feast of the Lamb and His bride, the church.