We just lost our first member to Covid 19. I saw it coming closer, but I continued to hold out hope that it would pass over us – and it has.
Psalm 91 sings:
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him. For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.”
There is a reality to living under the protection of God that no plague can touch. “But dead is dead,” you may say.
In John 11, Jesus’ friend Lazarus becomes sick and dies, so Jesus heads to his grave and meets Lazarus’ sisters along the way:
“Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if only You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give You whatever You ask.’ Jesus told her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ ‘Yes,’ Martha said, ‘he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.’ Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in Me and believes in Me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she told Him. ‘I have always believed You are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One who has come into the world from God.’
It is terrifying when the plague comes near, but “Fear not!” the Lord (and nearly every angel) declares. If death is not permanent than our sorrow isn’t either. Jesus demonstrates this truth for us with His own life, death, and resurrection. Truly, “Weeping may endure for the night but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5
Which is why Paul could write:
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
2 Corinthians 4-5
When our earthly tents fold, there is an eternal house party overflowing with joy awaiting us: a home and a life and an enormous family of love from every nation created by God that no evil thing can touch. We experience the reality of that life today through faith in Jesus Christ. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” 2 Corinthians 1:20-22
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
“Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?’ And I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.’ So he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” Revelation 7