Revelation 21:4 holds a promise of restoration, where the current world will pass away and God will bring about a new reality. The verse states, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Some dismiss these words as mere wishful thinking, but believers find solace in this promise amidst the current brokenness. The fact that God will one day wipe away every tear gives us hope.
The promise that God will wipe away every tear is accompanied by other things that exist in our current world that will be eradicated in the world to come: “There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4, NLT). There is also “no more sea” (verse 1, NKJV) and “no more curse” (Revelation 22:3, NKJV). In the place of those six things, the new earth will have the New Jerusalem, the presence and glory of God, and the everlasting joy of the saints. As God wipes away all tears, all that occasioned the tears is also wiped away.
Life in this world is a mixture of good and evil, which forces us to grapple with various tragedies. There are tears, sorrow, pain, suffering, sickness, death, accidents, and natural calamities. All of creation groans, waiting for God’s full deliverance (Romans 8:22). The fallen nature of our world is evident, and everyone has experienced some form of suffering. In fact, many believers and skeptics view the problem of evil as the biggest objection to God’s existence or at least His benevolence.
However, Christians are not without hope, as Revelation 21:4 proclaims. Just as God subjected creation to a curse when Adam sinned, He will restore everything and establish a new order of life through Jesus. As the late Timothy Keller wrote, “The Biblical view of things is resurrection—not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted. This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater” (The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, Dutton, 2008, p. 32).
Furthermore, we can trust that God’s character remains untarnished despite suffering and tears because He willingly took on our suffering for our sake. Once again, Timothy Keller offers valuable insight:
If we again ask the question: “Why does God allow evil and suffering to continue?” and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still do not know what the answer is. However, we now know what the answer isn’t. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us. It can’t be that he is indifferent or detached from our condition. God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on himself. (Ibid., p. 30)Moreover, the existence of evil does not necessarily disprove God’s existence. In fact, it has led some prominent skeptics to at least consider the idea of a Supreme Being. C. S. Lewis is an example. In one of his well-known quotes, Lewis raises the question, “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of ‘just’ and ‘unjust’? . . . What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” (Mere Christianity, HarperCollins Publishers, 2023, p. 31).
Additionally, we can only discuss cruel and unfair suffering if there is an objective “ought to,” a rational way humans are to live that’s above them. Without norms, there can be no deviation. But if there is no God, then the world came about by random chance and every standard we have is ultimately man-made and subject to change. Why then do we talk about good and evil as self-evident, objective realities? Some might appeal to a deistic god, but that does not provide a satisfactory explanation. Why would a Being go through the process of creating a universe and establishing regulations for his creations, only to abandon the universe to its own whims?
Consequently, one can argue that the presence of brokenness and evil serves as evidence for the Christian God’s existence, especially considering the Christian meta-narrative’s recognition of the harsh reality of suffering and its complexities. The cross then stands as a testament to God’s character. Indeed, many individuals have placed their trust in Christ precisely because of suffering, not in spite of it.
But how can we be certain that the hope expressed in Revelation 21:4 is not mere wishful thinking? The answer lies in the resurrection. The truthfulness of Christianity hinges on this historical claim (1 Corinthians 15:14). Because Jesus was raised from the dead, our hope is built on solid ground. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4a, ESV). And surely He has risen again.
“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5b, NLT). The night of this world brings sorrow, but sunrise is coming. When that new day dawns, God will wipe away all tears, and, in the words of Esther Kerr Rusthoi, “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus” (Singspiration, 1969).