When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
You wouldn’t think that Easter would be a time for “hard to hear” words from our God. But in Colossians 3:4, the apostle Paul brings two of the most “hard to hear” Easter words into the conversation: when and then. “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Okay, in reality, they’re not that troublesome for us! But they do carry some difficult implications, nevertheless.
When indicates an indefinite time in the future. Think of cold weather people, cooped up inside their homes for 6 (or more!) months of the year. They just want to see a 75-degree day! And it will happen when spring comes. Well, when will spring come? That we don’t know for sure. And that waiting is hard.
Then indicates something that is coming in the future, something separated from us by a length of time. But we tend to want things now. After 6 months of winter, the frostbitten northerners don’t want to hear about another 3–5 inches of white stuff in the forecast. They just want to be able to sit outside on the patio today. They don’t want then, they want now. And that waiting is hard.
But that first 75-degree day, enjoyed in the sunshine on the patio? It’s glorious and totally worth the wait.
Don’t misunderstand. Easter absolutely gives us a reason to rejoice today and every day of our lives. We have a living Savior, one who hears and helps, upholds and strengthens, one who sits at the very right hand of God himself. Easter definitely blesses us now. But “if our hope in Christ applies only to this life, we are the most pitiful people of all,” wrote the Apostle Paul. (1 Corinthians 15:19, EHV).
Easter’s fullest triumph is not something we know now, but something we will know then. When Jesus comes back to judge the world, those who were with him through the troubles and trials of this life will then appear with him in glory—glory that never diminishes, a glory that never ends. When will that happen? We don’t know. Wait with eager expectation. Wait in faith. Because it will, indeed, be glorious and totally worth the wait.
Preserve me in faith until the day of your return. And come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen!