The place of exile became the place of revelation.
A precious few got to walk with Jesus on earth. They ate with him, served with him, learned from him, laughed with him. It was exhilarating to experience the power released in just a word or touch of his hand; his disciples couldn’t wait to see what happened next. His love for people was unlike anything they’d ever known or experienced.
Then life as they knew it suddenly ended. Jesus was crucified, buried and gone. Peter, James and John—some of his dearest friends—were left desolate and wondering, What now?
Some lived with pain and regret, such as Peter who had denied even knowing Jesus in his hour of need. Some were persecuted and suffered terrible trials. John, called the “beloved” one, was sent into exile on the island of Patmos. A place of utter loneliness.
It was here that Jesus appeared to him with eyes like a flame of fire. He revealed to John all that was to come in what we know as “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” the last book of the Bible. The visitation was so overwhelming that John “fell at his feet as dead.” Yet Jesus laid his reassuring right hand on him and said, “Don’t be afraid.”
In that moment, John’s despair became eternal hope again. The place of exile became the place of revelation. All he knew of Jesus came alive once again and gave him grace to persevere. Love wasn’t just a theory. It was a person. There was no place of exile so remote that God would not find him.
Have you ever felt abandoned or betrayed by God? Maybe you lost a loved one you thought God would heal. Or found yourself divorced from the person you most trusted. Or wondered how you would pay the rent and put food on the table. Maybe you’ve decided God doesn’t hear you or care about you. Maybe you’re not even sure you believe in God anymore.
No matter how far from Jesus you feel you are today, his love goes farther still. It’s in the places of deepest loneliness that he most wants to reveal himself.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being with me in the depths of pain, doubt and despair. Thank you for never leaving or forsaking me. I invite you to reveal any lies I’ve been believing that have separated me from experiencing the love of Christ. Give me greater revelation of your word in Romans 8:37-39 that says I am more than a conqueror through your love. Give me a deep conviction that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from your love. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.