It is no secret that this pandemic has been both great and challenging for families.
On the one hand, it has given families the opportunity for increased quality and quantity of time.
On the other hand, even the most tightly-knit families have been strained: The practical aspects of life, like work and school, are harder. The disappointments of canceled and altered expectations continued through the holidays. And the reality of death, disease, and human suffering has become impressed on the young minds of your children.
In the midst of these trials, where has your family turned to in God’s Word? Have you looked to Psalms? Or maybe Philippians? Perhaps you’ve turned to James?
How about studying Revelation?
For the last few weeks of December, the Fighter Verse Bible memorization plan walked through Revelation 21:3-6. While studying the passages, I marveled at how comforting these verses have become after a year like 2020. I realized how helpful passages like these can be to our children—lifelines to which they can cling so they are prepared for when (not if) the next hardship comes.
Revelation 101: God’s Victory
Often, we get caught up in the details of Revelation, which—while important—can create hesitation toward reading this important book. Rather than become intimidated with the details in Revelation, let’s focus on the broader message.
Zoom out for a second and consider where Revelation fits in the storyline of Scripture and history. This book is the promise of God’s victory. If we flashback to Genesis 1-2, we can read how God made everything good. So, what changed? Between Genesis 3 and Revelation 20, there was (and is) a struggle. After mankind fell in Genesis, Satan looked victorious. But God sent his Son to redeem the mess. That brings us to the present-day—a world in which we’re waiting for God to make everything right again. We’re waiting for God to ultimately fulfill his promises.
Finding Hope While Studying Revelation
While we wait, it is easy to become nearsighted. If we dare to hope, that hope is often misplaced in things of this world like the possibility of mass vaccinations or a normal Christmas in 2022. Studying Revelation reminds us that we have a far more stable hope to trust in. Someday, we will see Revelation 21-22.
These chapters pick up after Satan—as well as death, hell itself, and anyone who did not trust in Jesus—is thrown into the lake of fire. Cast away from God forever. But what happens to Christians? As Revelation 21 shares, Christians will live in the new heaven and new earth. We will live in a beautiful holy city called the new Jerusalem.
In light of chapter 21 (vv. 3-6 in particular), there are three major hopes we can cling to.
3 Hopes from Revelation 21
Hope 1: A future home (v. 3)
When you imagine your ideal eternity, is God in the picture? Better than getting to eat whatever we want, or fly, or whatever else you’re hoping will be the case, the true joy of the new heaven and new earth is God.
He will dwell, or live with, believers. There will be no more separation. Because of this, we will know our true home. Why? Because when Jesus came, he broke the barrier between man and God. Those who trust in Jesus can now make their home with God because Jesus took care of their sin. But the effects of sin still remain in this life; we are waiting for a day when we will finally and fully make our home with God. That is what Revelation 21 speaks to.
When things are going well in this life, we can almost ignore that holy discomfort with this world—one that leads us to yearn for our true home. But as long as this pandemic rages, we cannot be tricked into thinking we’ve found our perfect home here on earth. Neither can our children. Rather, they can rest in the hope that someday, if they are in Christ, they will dwell with God.
Hope 2: No more tears (v.4)
There is much to cry about these days. At the same time, there is never a season completely without tears on this side of eternity. Sin and its consequences are the rule in this life. For small portions of time, we may be able to find exceptions. We can delay death, cure disease, and throw ourselves into pleasurable experiences for a short while, but it is never long before sorrow creeps in.
This pandemic has forced us to confront suffering. Suffering, either from the disease itself or its societal ramifications, is ever-present. That leaves only two possible responses. We can either grow more and more sad, frustrated, or fearful as we lament our loss. Or we can accept what was always the reality of this world, and let that sorrow lead us to better appreciate an eternity without pain.
This is an opportunity to help your kids see and love the truth that every skinned knee, bump on the head, or something worse is a reminder that all that hard stuff only lasts as long as this world does. They can trust that the hard stuff Jesus went through gives them the right to go where there is no hard stuff. And in the meantime, they can ask Jesus for help to endure.
- Hope 3: The End is the Beginning (vv. 5-6)
Without Christ, the end of this life is the end. That is why so much sin and sorrow gets squeezed out of people when this life doesn’t deliver. But Christians know the end is just the beginning.
On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” At that moment, he was declaring an end to the reign of sin and death. Yet, we know we won’t really see just how done it is until all this is over and Jesus comes again. These verses, and studying Revelation, teaches us that, if we trust in Jesus as our only hope of life and salvation, we have eternal life now that helps us persevere. But we also have the promise that we will be there when God makes all things new again.
What a blessing God has given our families in this pandemic! In revealing the suffering in this world, he has limited the temptation to get too comfortable in this life. Which can, if we are willing, point us forward to a time far greater than even the best day on this side of eternity.
The book of Revelation definitively declares “God wins.” Isn’t this exactly what our families most need to know right now?