Last year taught us more about our fragility and our humanity than we may have wanted to learn. Sinners all, we are but dust and to dust we shall return. Death came near in 2020. Through the repeated and careful washing of hands and the daily wearing of masks, we grew to comprehend the fine line that stands between us and death.
Many of us lost loved ones — husbands, wives, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings. When 2020 began, though COVID-19 had already breached our shores, we had no idea what was coming.
At this point, more than 86,200,000 people have been infected worldwide. In excess of 21,009,000 of the infected are in the United States. Globally, more than 1,870,000 loved ones have died, more than 357,000 of them American.
At the beginning of 2020, none of us had any inkling. But now, we know more about death and the messy business of dying than we ever wanted to know. These events — pandemics, yearly influenza, catastrophes, driving on snow and ice, car accidents — are eye-openers that the Lord allows to cross our paths.
All of these prepare us for reality, reminding us that one day we will die. All of us reading this will step out of our mortal bodies into eternity.
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV).
Today, on the day I first drafted this post, I applied the prescribed topical chemotherapy cream to my face for the first time. In the fall, several pink areas on my nose were biopsied and discovered to be precancerous. I had stared at these for many months wondering why red splotches had appeared, supposing the spots were old acne scars.
No, my dermatologist informed me, they were my body doing what bodies do — deconstructing. My sun-damaged cells were beginning the work of death, a common experience for many of us who grew up in the days before sunscreen even existed.
I trust the prescribed medication to do its work. The Fluorouracil will burn the area, and it will become red and inflamed. This will be followed by blisters, peeling of skin, and the damaged skin eroding away until we get to the bottom, the area denuded like a burn site. Then, after all the killing has been accomplished, the area will begin to be restored. Life after death.
In a small way, this personal event drives home my mortality. In a time of pandemic, it feels even more personal. Though I trust the medication, the outcome is really in God’s hands. He will reshape my body and superintend the healing, just as he formed me in my mother’s womb.
Thanks be to God that I have these great and precious promises, as do ALL who have placed their confidence in Christ Jesus, God the Son. No matter what happens to my body, I will live.
Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV). Her answer is the answer of all who believe in and entrust themselves to Jesus, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:27b NIV).No matter what happens to my body, I will live. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. Everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die" (John11:25-26). Click To Tweet
Neither cancer nor pandemic can keep me from an eternity with my Lord and Savior. One day I will step right out of my body and into Jesus’ arms.
If you have entrusted yourself to Jesus, the same is true for you. All who believe are his, and he is ours. We can give ourselves entirely to him, leaving in his capable hands the outcome of the cancer drug, the COVID treatment, our recovery from the debilitating injury, the course of our autoimmune diseases, or our final illness.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2 ESV).
In this new year, as we leave behind perhaps the most difficult 365 days of our lives, let us remember the promises that undergird our faith. The Savior who has risen from the dead makes eternal life possible for all who entrust our lives, our bodies, our wills, and our minds into his hands.The Savior who has risen from the dead makes eternal life possible for all who entrust our lives, our bodies, our wills, and our minds into his hands. #TrustGod #BelieveInJesus Click To Tweet
Peter and Paul wrote to remind us of these promises of eternal life, as did Job and David and many other Scripture writers.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV).
Our inheritance in Christ awaits us in heaven and our Savior shields us by his power until that day arrives. This is cause for great rejoicing, no matter the trial we currently face. These test and prove our faith, showing it to be genuine and our hope secure in Christ Jesus. Praise and glory and honor be to him for his work of gaining salvation and resurrection for us!Our inheritance in Christ awaits us in heaven and our Savior shields us by his power until that day arrives. This is cause for great rejoicing, no matter the trial we currently face. #FaithInJesus #TrustGod Click To Tweet
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:51, 55-57 ESV).
“For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27 ESV)
Thanks be to God! We will live. Once this life has expired or he returns, and none of us know the day either of those realities will occur, we will see him face to face, and we shall become like him, for we shall see him as he is. Because of him, we will see as he sees. The promises of God are faithful and lifegiving. We are truly blessed by the love, mercy, and grace of God.