Revelation 7:16-17 - "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Once upon a time, there was no such thing as the internet. One such year was 1972. In order to get a hotel room in places such as Daytona Beach, FL, a family actually had to drive there from a place like Kingsport, TN and look for a hotel that had a little sign in the window that said "Vacancy." If there was no room in the inn, the hotel would put a sign that said "No" in front of "Vacancy."
My late father, Ben, Sr., had driven our family of six the long trip from Kingsport to Daytona for a July 4 holiday. He found a place with a "Vacancy," parked the car, and went inside with many other travellers who were seeking a room during that busy holiday. The process of getting a room was taking a while so us four kids, (I was 7 years old), talked my mom into letting us swim in the hotel pool until dad was finished. I myself took off my shirt and exposed my very pale, never-south-of-Tennessee, skin to the scorching Florida sun for 30 minutes while we had an absolute ball in the pool. Bad idea.
I was introduced to my first official sunburn. And it was bad. I was scorched so intensely on my face, arms, chest and back that I had to walk like the Hunchback through the newly built Disney World. As the Haunted House ride went backwards down a steep slope, I held onto the safety bar for dear life because I couldn't lean back against anything without excruciating pain. I had to sleep on hotel floors, lest one of my 3 siblings accidentally turn in the night and touch my sun-scorched body. I literally froze with fever chills as the ceiling fans sent what felt like an Arctic blast in every place we ate. And by the end of the week, I was peeling very large chunks of skin off my body.
This whole recounting is a parable for one of many reasons why I'm a Christian and thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, namely, that, in the language of today's Bible verse from Revelation 7:16-17, I don't want to be struck by "any scorching heat. For the Lamb [Jesus] in the midst of the throne will be [our] shepherd, and he will guide [us] to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes."
These words were written to and were a comfort to those who, through faith in Jesus Christ, had endured the great tribulation of suffering from the scorching heat of persecution under Emperor Nero in 60 A.D. and beyond. Every movement of every Christian came with the uncertainty of bumping into and being touched by an unbeliever who would inflict great pain. It would have been difficult to eat or sleep in peace. When discovered, the lashings would cause the loss of large chunks of not just skin but flesh and leave a body scarred for life.
So when God's word says, "the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat" what it means in reality is that, though we are struck by heat and burned on the outside, there is an unmistakable victory on the inside, "For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
In the end, I had a great time in Florida that week with many fond memories from "It's a Small World" in Disney to a Stock Car race at Daytona International Speedway. And I intend to have a great time today, even as we live in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to lives fully devoted to Christ and his ways.
The Lamb is with you today. Come what may from the scorching heat of your day, trust him to "guide you to springs of living water, and to wipe away every tear." He promises. He will.