I am in my last semester of seminary, and I purposefully left my eschatology theology class until the end. That’s fitting, right, since eschatology is the study of the end times? My motivation, however, was more than a desire to make a (not so) clever joke. As I prepare to go to Greece and work with women who have been trafficked, I knew I need a solid grasp on what my faith says about ultimate redemption and restoration. My favorite professor at Union University said of Revelation, “The only message you must take away from Revelation is: God wins.” Anticipating this semester, I knew I needed a refresher on the hope that is found in eschatology.
Sometimes studying theology can feel unreal. The focus can become so removed from reality that everything is pie-in-the-sky optimistic and really, what good is that? I 100% believe that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is good news, but that gospel message is only good because there is so much bad around us. I’m feeling that tension a lot as I start to imagine working with women who have been raped, abused, and lied to–over and over again all day, every day, for years of their lives. What kind of Christian message do I want to give to them? Anything that proclaims the victory of Christ without acknowledging the brutal agony of this broken world is useless to them. And to me, too, if I’m honest.
Which is why I am so excited to be taking eschatology from Dr. Kreider. We aren’t going to cover the debatable details of rapture, tribulation, or the millennium for months. Those are the flashy topics of eschatology, but what the class is really meant to ingrain in us is a deep-seated hope and faith that the love of God is remaking this broken world into something that will be more blindingly beautiful that we can imagine. It is a hope that the despicable things these women have gone through will be reshaped, redeemed, and remade so that their pain is turned into glory. I–I honestly don’t know how that is possible. My hope is not yet that strong. How can the work and purposes of God be worthy enough to explain such horror? And yet…and yet. I’m learning. I’m trying to trust.
Dr. Kreider is fond of using music to teach, which I appreciate. Music is sticky in a way words often aren’t. Here are a couple songs played during our introductory class, songs that remind me that this world royally sucks, but that somehow, some way, the grace and beauty of God will overcome.
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love
Sick of sorrow
I’m sick of the pain
I’m sick of hearing
Again and again
That there’s gonna be
Peace on Earth
This is not another song about the mountains
Except about how hard they are to move
Have you ever stood before them
Like a mustard seed who’s waiting for some proof?
I say faith is a burden
It’s a weight to bear
It’s brave and bittersweet
And hope is hard to hold to
Lord, I believe
Only help my unbelief