Maybe someday this post will turn into an entire book, but for now I want to briefly share with you some encouragement. I’m writing quickly as I get ready to walk out the door for a much needed movie date, so forgive me for any less than eloquent speech. But as you walk through suffering in your own life, may you consider this.


Sometimes a blow in life is so devastating that it actually feels unreal. That you will wake up the next morning and discover it was just a bad dream. That this cannot actually be your life. That when you type the words or talk about your story or speak of it out loud, it truly feels like you’re talking about someone else. That it is not actually real.

As I was having those same thoughts today, it struck me: It’s because it’s not. We treat our temporary earthly home as our permanent dwelling, thinking of Heaven only in the ethereal sweet “by-and-by.” As if Heaven is the fantasy and life here is reality. As if eternity is only to be imagined, but life here on this planet is actual. As if in Heaven we will exist in a dream-like trance, while on Earth we feel everything concretely.

Heaven

But we’re wrong. Dead wrong. This place is not our home. What we experience here (while sometimes having eternal impact or consequences) is only the precursor. The preparation. The precession.

And while we can sing about eternity, believe in Heaven, and read about our citizenship being elsewhere, we often live, act, and react as if this place is the end-all be-all. As a citizen of another kingdom, I must act accordingly, not just in my behavior, but in my approach to the temporary nature of this life. For “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20, NIV).

What does that look like, though, as far as suffering? To have our citizenship elsewhere? To live on this planet but live for eternity elsewhere?

It means simply this: That we can rise above what seems unreal, because it is. Life on Earth is not reality. It’s merely a fog. It’s but a poor precursor to reality. 

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. -1 Corinthians 13:12, NIV

What we know now and feel now and experience now is only what we can know in part. It is not the full reality. The picture isn’t clear yet. We see only in silhouette.

silhouettes

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV

As you face whatever suffering or hardships have come your way, may you keep this in mind. May you remember that this life is not the reality. That our citizenship is elsewhere. That your living nightmare that feels unreal actually is. Pain will dissolve. Betrayals will end. Forsaken ones will be received. And everything will be worth it. All of it.

Because in the end of this earthly life, real life truly begins.

Therefore, we can rise above. Even when life is a very, very bad dream. We choose to focus on what’s real.

Until then and then every day after, Jesus.

 

4 thoughts on “Rising Above the Unreal: Focusing on what’s real when life feels like a bad dream

  1. Julie Pitts

    Three of my favorite “cling to” passages. Three of the verses I have clung to for years. It’s hard–especially in light of all we all go through–to remember Phil 3:20, yet before I was in the hardest of hard, I would preach that from the top of the highest mountains if God had let me (which was usually just the singles’ ministry for which He put me in co-charge in my living room townhouse in Indy). I did, though. I foolishly preached that…people bought it…and I tried to live it. It’s harder when you are staring eternity in the face and that face looks nothing like yours, with bright and flashing brown eyes that have such great love, hope, and potential in them, yet so much brokenness as well. Eternity is supposed to be our goal. That’s supposed to be our focus. We are reliving the 5 year anniversary of my brother-in-law’s unexpected and untimely death. Yet, my husband Steve preached the verse above that “then we will know, as we are fully known”. Brad knows now. He is on the other side of this mess. He knows as he was already fully known. He is fishing and hiking and biking and guitaring with Jesus. And his dog, Abby. I hope I can re-adjust my thoughts toward that which God holds most holy. I pray God blesses you this week, Heidi, with hope.

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  2. Jennifer

    Thank you so much. Your ability to put my words down on paper brings tears to my eyes.. thank you for speaking your truth. The Lord has truly blessed you with a heart for Him and a love for us you write for…
    May you be incredibly blessed,
    Jen

    Reply

  3. Asil

    Thank you for speaking truth, Heidi. Your ability to communicate unarticulated thoughts is a gift.

    Reply

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