1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. For the first heaven and the first earth went away and the sea is no longer. 2 And the city, the holy one, New Jerusalem, I saw coming down out of heaven from God having been prepared as a bride having been adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God with the humans, and He will tabernacle with them, and they themselves will be His peoples, and God Himself will be with them [their God], 4 and He will wipe off every tear out of their eyes, and death will be no longer, nor mourning nor crying out, nor pain, it will be no longer, [because] the first things went away." (Revelation 21:1-4 - URLV).
A case could be made, with strong evidence, that this blog--with its focus on redemption under the guise of "theft"--should have started with a post on death. In many ways, God's miraculous replacement of death with life, and "true life," "eternal life" at that, is the most vivid physical reality which illustrates redemption for one who has believed that Jesus Christ died on the cross to justify all sin, and was raised from the dead to give life to justified sinners. Death and life are perhaps the most opposite things in the Word of God, even when dropped among a whole universe of amazing opposites: darkness/light, wisdom/folly, evil/good, wickedness/righteousness, profanity/holiness, unbelief/faith, and on an on.
Death and life are never just metaphors, and both carry associated words--"partners"--which convey how different they are from one another. Death is also associated with pain, crying, mourning, affliction, illness, and, at death's very root are sin and separation from God. Life is associated with blessing, joy, peace, rejoicing, well-being ("shalom"), and at life's very root are holiness and deep relationship with God.
Revelation 21:1-4 emphasizes the end of death for believers by punctuating the end of death's partners: not only is death "no longer," but also gone are mourning, crying out, and pain. The equation is pretty easy at this point: mourning and pain are symptoms of death, in a way, or--perhaps more precisely--mourning and pain are little pieces of death remaining in our earthly bodies, which remind us that--even for believers--there is something more to come. Quite simply, but also quite true and unavoidably, pain tells me that my present earthly body is still dying, and--in fact--more than just "dying," but right on the edge of death.
Pain is often labeled as a "good" thing because it alerts us and our physicians to the presence of injury and disease. I won't dispute that pain does have a warning function; BUT: pain can never rightfully be called "good," because the father of pain--death--is so completely bad and wrong. Death and pain simply don't belong in God's universe, and are only here because mankind chose to disobey God at the point--timewise--when obedience was most crucial for the future of the human race.
This is but a prelude to a much-needed discussion, or at least a series of "discussion-provokers" (hopefully) which fit the original purpose and scope of this blog very well. I can remember vividly the amount of pain I had a couple years ago, as I recovered from disc surgery, so that reality is no stranger. However, in order for this discussion to avoid being overloaded with laments on suffering, I need to allow the eternal truth of God's Word on life and healing to inform my words as much as my current physical experience.
More to come.
Grace and peace of Christ to all.