April 22, 2010 | 09:26 am

Thursday: Optimistic about the End

One of this week’s texts comes from the book of Revelation (7:9-17). The literary genre is apocalyptic. It is a future-oriented, power-packed, symbolic account of good versus evil. It can be difficult to understand, and there are varying interpretations of how it is understood. But there is one unquestionable theme: it is optimistic about what happens in the end. It says there will be a “great multitude” gathered before the throne of God. The people are so numerous “that no one could count.” They will come “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (7:9). Imagine this countless multitude standing in the presence of God dressed head to toe in white, which symbolizes their worthiness, holding palm branches, symbolizing triumph. Today, we may not be able to see past the tensions and wars, but in the end we see peace with God and with each other.

This beatific view of the end should not cause us to overlook the needs of those who are suffering right now. But by looking beyond today, it gives us hope that we are moving towards an end that is beyond what current circumstances may allow us to dream. Just affirming this possibility causes us to look at people and situations through a different lens. Rather than thinking the situation insurmountable or viewing people or places hopeless, we should look to the Spirit of God that is on the move around us. Sometimes it is true that what you see is what you get.