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COVID-19 and the believer’s hope of heaven

PROFESSIONS OF FAITH

You may have heard that I recently tested positive for COVID-19. If I were writing this a year ago, it might be a little more intriguing, but now after tens of millions of people worldwide have had the Coronavirus, it is not exactly news when one more person is infected.

Although COVID-19 affects everyone differently, most people would agree it’s no fun to have. For me, it involved dealing with perhaps the worst sore throat of my life, along with some lung congestion and fatigue. Obviously, this is minor compared to what many have dealt with and I am thankful to be feeling much better now.

Any time you experience sickness, it is a reminder that things are not as they should be. Let me say that again. Things are not as they should be. Having lived in this fallen sinful world our whole lives, sometimes we forget that sickness and death are not normal. They seem normal because that is all we have ever known, but the Bible reminds us that death is still the enemy (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

The first two chapters and the last two chapters of the Bible are instructive in this. These “bookends” of God’s Holy Word remind us that sickness and death were not part of God’s creation plan before the Fall, nor will they be part of re-creation plans at the end of time.

In describing the new heavens and the new earth, Revelation 21:4 explains this marvelous reality. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” As we continue to live “between the bookends” we experience all of this – tears, mourning, crying, pain, and of course, death. But one day soon God will annihilate suffering and death for good and bless His people with “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).

If you are a Christian, don’t buy into the mindset that what we are experiencing now is “normal.” The Coronavirus is not normal. Cancer is not normal. Death is not normal. Something is very wrong with the world, and that something is sin (Genesis 3).

If you are a Christian, let your heart long for heaven. The Bible says, “Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). A mind that is set on heaven will have a much greater capacity for endurance and steadfastness than one that can’t look beyond the here and now.

Praise God that He didn’t leave this fallen world in its sinful state. Two thousand years ago, He sent His Son to redeem His people from their sins (John 1:14, Romans 5:8, Galatians 4:4-5). One day, He will make all things new and create a place where righteousness truly dwells (Revelation 21:5, 2 Peter 3:13).

Friend, is that the longing of your heart? Don’t think that this world is as good as it gets. For those who have been born again to a living hope, something much better awaits us. Praise God!

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 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. (1 Peter 1:3-7)

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The Rev. Daniel Stegeman is pastor of Pine Glen Alliance Church in Lewistown. You can find more articles like this on his blog www.pastoral-theology.com

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