Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Life Doesn't End at Death

"God heals all of our diseases."

Do you believe that?  Really?

Does God heal all - ALL? - of our diseases?

Psalm 103:2-3 exhorts us to "Bless the Lord... who heals all your diseases..."

That's what the Bible teaches, but do we believe it?  After all; people die.  We all die from something.  Some people die from accidents of some sort, and others die from unexplainable causes.  But most of us will die from sickness, whether it's heart disease, cancer, complications from Alzheimer's, or some other physical malady.

So how can the Bible teach that God heals His people from all - every single one - of our diseases?  Because, obviously, that healing most often will take place not here on Earth, but when we arrive in Heaven, to live with Him there for the rest of our lives.

And that's the key, isn't it?  "The rest of our lives."

The time you and I spend here on Earth is a drop in the proverbial bucket of eternity past and eternity future.  Our lives don't end when we die, do they?  But we often forget that.  We become so consumed with daily living and the pressures and rewards of our self-focused existence that it's easy for us to ignore the reality that death is a portal, not a conclusion.  Life continues beyond the grave.  What's different is the place where life will continue.

For those of us who Christ has redeemed, our lives will continue in Heaven.  For those who deny Christ's salvation, their lives will continue in Hell.  Most of us know this, or have at least heard it, even in the basest, most religiously colloquial sense.  Some people even joke about it.  No matter how illiterate our society is getting regarding Christianity in particular and religion in general, the concepts of Heaven and Hell remain widely understood, if not properly respected.

Yet God does not view life the same way we do, does He?  We tend to focus on the here-and-now, and our happiness or sufferings.  Meanwhile, God operates with an inestimably broader perspective of who each of us is, and our presence in His timeless reality - whether we'll be spending timeless eternity in Heaven with Him, or in Hell, with His fallen angel.

So when He promises to heal all of our diseases, He will.

Just, perhaps, not in our time here on this planet.

His perfect sovereignty reaches so far beyond our comprehension, we tend to wallow in disappointment when our loved ones battle some horrible disease.  Not that grieving is a sin, but begrudging God His prerogative to heal His own on the other side of the grave likely is. 

Disease is a direct result of the fall of man back in the Garden of Eden.  Some diseases we can bring on ourselves through our abuse of God's good things, like food and alcohol, but many more diseases can strike us through no implicit fault of our own.  Illness is a perversion of health and life brought about by Adam and Eve.  We are right to mourn its pernicious effects.

Ironically, although death is our entry into the rest of our eternity, God did not intend for death to be a "normal" part of life.  It's a popular saying, "death is a part of life."  But it's not, is it?  Death is another direct result of the Fall.  Death provides humanity a constant reminder of our proclivity for sin, even if our death comes to us through no immediate fault of our own.  Yet even in death, God's mercy can be found.  For people stricken with a terminal disease, death can be God's way of releasing His people from that disease, even though loved ones who remain here on Earth will mourn that person's passing.  It's natural - and indeed, fitting - to deeply miss people we've loved, and who've loved us.  But as 1 Thessalonians 4 exhorts us, we can mourn, but not as those without hope.

Indeed, our hope is in the fact that God will, at some point, reunite His people together with Him - and each other - in His perfect, healthy eternity.

In the 1843 hymn, "Come, Christians, Join to Sing," we're reminded of the totality of our existence, extending not simply through our time here on Earth, but throughout time itself.  Are we living with this future in mind?

Praise yet our Christ again,
Alleluia! Amen!
Life shall not end the strain;
Alleluia! Amen!
On heaven’s blissful shore,
His goodness we’ll adore,
Singing forevermore,
“Alleluia! Amen!”

"Life shall not end the strain."  Indeed!