Much of 2020 was about waiting. Waiting to see how the virus will spread, waiting to see if the kids will go back to school, waiting to see if we’ll be able to go to church in person or if we’ll have to worship in our living rooms again. The church has just made its way through another year of advent, a time when we expect to wait. We mark it and celebrate it. But now the holidays have come and gone. And unlike new years in the past, the change in our calendars this time may feel more like a mockery than a fresh start. Instead of the new or different we had hoped for, we find ourselves waiting again, enduring.
The other day I was half listening to the news on the radio as I drove when I heard this headline, “It is an historic day for a woman in Great Britain, who is the first person in the world to receive a vaccine for the Coronavirus.” I listened as the woman in her 90s expressed her surprise and delight, saying she was overwhelmed at the opportunity to be the first to be immunized. And then I started crying.
Living in Hope
Maybe it was her sweet British accent and the gratitude in her voice. But in my body I felt profound relief. Finally help was coming. Finally the hundreds and thousands of deaths would be slowed, the hospital admissions would go down, the children would play on playgrounds again without worrying about the distance between them. I knew none of these things would happen immediately, but suddenly there was a hope in my heart that felt like life and joy, energy and motivation. This locked down, lonely, mask-wearing, death-fearing existence might be our present reality. But it would not be our future.
I do not now know the date when the world will go back to normal, whatever the new normal looks like. I do not have access to the name of the last person who will die from the Corona virus. I don’t know when my husband, who is diabetic and a heart attack survivor, will be vaccinated, therefore alleviating some of the anxiety my children and I carry every day. But because I know protection for him and all of us is coming, my outlook has begun to change. The ground beneath me seems to have shifted from a downward ramp toward the unknown and scary to an upward path of hope and possibility. I do not need to know specifics for my heart to begin to relax and believe that we might make it through.
Is this not the experience of the Christian life?
Even when we are fully on the other side of the pandemic, there will still be loss, grief, and tragedy. Babies will be lost to miscarriage, young men will be murdered before they ever make it out of their 20s, and dementia will bring another family to its knees. Yet we as believers do not live as those without hope. Our outlook is not like that of the medical and scientific world in the spring of 2020, watching helplessly as people began to die from a virus they didn’t understand. We do watch in despair the devastation that sin wreaks on the world. We wait and watch as those with hope. Because we have a promise of something far better than a vaccine. We have knowledge of the coming of something with much wider implications, a healing far broader than that of a single disease.
Hope in Christ
“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen!” (Luke 24:5-6)
When Jesus rose from the dead, he defeated death. The sentence that had been given to all mankind was reversed. Instead of death having the final say, life invaded, and changed the story.
“…he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.” (2 Cor 4:14)
Not only has he defeated death, but we, his younger sisters, will be resurrected just as he has been. Our resurrected bodies will not be those marked by pain and disease, but perfected bodies, as that of Jesus.
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)
Not only will we be resurrected, but we will have a place made special and ready just for us by Jesus himself. He will be in that place, known to us with an immediacy and an intimacy we do now yet know now.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 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.” (Rev 21:1-4)
Our special room prepared by Jesus is just the beginning of the glory we’ve been promised. We will be swallowed up in the joy of seeing our God face to face in a new earth where sin has no reign. The former things, the things that tinged the most beautiful people, places, and experiences with sadness on this earth, will be over. New, untarnished, beautiful, and whole will be the norm.
These promises are some that you’ve probably heard before. But doesn’t your heart need to hear them again? As you mourn the day to day losses of the present, let the truths about your future catch you again by surprise. Let the hope arrest your fears and bring you relief. For Jesus, the king himself, has promised to choreograph your future with such beauty and loveliness, such captivating joy, that the suffering you know now could be spoken of as a “light and momentary affliction” (2 Cor 4:17). As you wait for the promised redemption, let your future reality invade your present.
About the Author:
Christine B. Gordon, MATS, is wife to Michael and mother of three. She earned her Master of Arts in Theological Studies at Covenant Seminary. She currently lives in St. Louis where she works as the intake coordinator for a counseling center. She loves to walk, make music with other people, and share bad puns with her family. You can find 7 Bible studies written by Christine and her writing partner, Hope Blanton, here.