Labouring unto Glory: Eschatology and Engagement


I will be married in four days. I have a recurring dream where I wake up on the day of my wedding and I try to get to the ceremony, but something keeps me from getting there every time. Someone’s hidden my shoes! My dress mysteriously gets sliced in half during the night and I’m sewing it back together with dental floss. The hairdresser has accidentally shaved my head. I am bald. BALD!

If you have been engaged, maybe you have some old journal entries like mine. What I wish I could have told myself then, I would like to tell you now. Namely, that engagement can be more than just planning a wedding, it is an invitation to wade deeper into your understanding of eschatologythe last things. The longing of a bride for her groom is a reminder of the longing every believer knows as they await Jesus Christ’s return. On that day, the joys of earthly marriage will prove to have been a limited metaphor, a dim shadow of the glorious union of the Lamb and his Bride.

Already Not Yet

Caleb had chosen me to be his wife. The ring on my finger declared to everyone that soon I would be his. For all the ways we were trying to build a life together, he still dropped me home every night. Actually, it was my friend’s home; I had moved across the world to marry Caleb. We lived in the tension of what was already but not yet.

How much truer is this for the Christian who eagerly awaits eternity with Christ? Those who await the return of the King, and his kingdom to be finally and triumphantly manifested. For though now we are tempted to believe powers of darkness rule, then we will undoubtedly know that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus (Matt. 28:18). We believe in him now, but then we will see him with our very eyes (Rev. 1:7). We strive to put an end to sin now, but then we will be completely cleansed from unrighteousness (1 John 1:8–10). Though we know we are united to Christ now, we will know it tangibly then (Col. 3:1–4). This is the now and not yet of life with Christ.

I am typing this from my home in the UAE. The balmy heat clings to the windows. A rooster and the call to prayer from the mosque down the street croak their songs in tandem. I am very much on earth. Yet in the sealing of my soul to Jesus Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit, I am somehow seated in the heavenly places with Jesus Christ. I belong to him. And one day, with face unveiled, I will see him – my heavenly bridegroom.

Labour unto Glory

In dating you merely plant seeds, with the chance that they will grow a garden of lifelong friendship. In engagement you realize that the garden was actually the grounds for a stony castle you are preparing to build together. The foundation must be solid enough to withstand all seasons and storms. So, you work. You toil. You persevere until you are united.

I cannot tell you the amount of hours we and our small army of friends put into planning our wedding, yet we could not have planned for all that went wrong! All the lights, flowers, and rental equipment for our wedding were negotiated between a chain of four people in three different languages, none of which I understood. Judging by the number of people who fell sick, the Flu A virus was passing through eye contact alone that week. The day before our wedding I watched the sun rise from the emergency room while my nephew got his fourth bag of IV fluids. Only two guests could fly in from my family’s side and within six hours of landing one of them was in emergency surgery for an extreme case of appendicitis. Whilst my family stayed in our new house with water shooting out from every toilet.

Why didn’t we just give up? Why did I wander through the back alleys of Dubai to buy sparklers from the trunk of an Indian man’s car? We knew what we were working towards. Christians persevere until heaven and earth are one. We do so because we have eternity with our Savior in view. The greater the trial, the more tightly we cling to the gospel, remembering that it’s the sorrows – more often than celebrations – that rightly shape our hearts and refine our faith. Faith that has been tested and made more precious will bring praise and glory to Jesus. 1 Peter 1:6–9 reminds us of this:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Despite all the mishaps, our wedding reception was the most fun we’ve ever had. So too, sweet times with the Lord are just a foretaste of what is to come. We enjoy the Lord now in anticipation of the unspeakable joys in glory with him. And as tightly as we grip the gospel, we’ll never wring out all the blessings that God has given us in Christ Jesus: forgiveness, justification, regeneration, the gift of the Holy Spirit, adoption into the family of God, and baptism into the body of Christ, the Church. All of this “show us the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5–7).

The Returning Bridegroom

Jesus Christ is the perfect bridegroom. Everything in the universe “was created through him and for him” (Col. 1:16), yet he is gentle and lowly in heart (Matt. 11:29). He holds all things together by the power of his word, but in love took on the form of humanity and suffered and died on the cross in our place. Our groom is “the radiance of the glory of God’ and seated at ‘the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). He sympathizes with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). He rejoices with our godly rejoicing and mourns with our losses. Not in weak ineffectualness, but as the one who raises us up with him to new life. He has the power to transform sorrow to joy.

We are confident that this perfect Groom will return for his imperfect Bride because he has promised this by his word (Matt. 24:30). As she shares in his suffering now, she will share in his glory then. Though we know not the day nor the hour (1 Thess. 4:16-18).

Finally, November 12, 2022 came, and Caleb and I were married. But we are still waiting. We long each day for the return of Jesus Christ. Until that day we’ll wait for him with perseverance, with joy, and with total confidence that he will come, and we’ll be with him forever.

Brothers and sisters, we labour unto glory.


Picture of Karen Varghese

Karen Varghese

Karen Holman Varghese is a former secondary teacher. Though she grew up in the American Midwest, she now writes from the United Arab Emirates where she lives with her husband Caleb. They are members of Ras Al Khaimah Evangelical Church.
Picture of Karen Varghese

Karen Varghese

Karen Holman Varghese is a former secondary teacher. Though she grew up in the American Midwest, she now writes from the United Arab Emirates where she lives with her husband Caleb. They are members of Ras Al Khaimah Evangelical Church.