Note: This is entry 6 in a study guide series called “Four Seasons of Healing: A Pathway for Those Living with Chronic Illness.” For a list of entries click here.
Part II: Spring (March to May)
May: Hope of Renewal
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 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
The body I dwell in is only meant to be a temporary home. It is broken, weakened by the Fall where sin and death entered the world. Those who experience disease, illness, and sickness understand the longing for a new “tent” to embody. Those at home in this world find out soon enough how broken it is. Even Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, would find death knocking once again at a future time (John 11). The suffering heart longs for a permanence greater than health and prosperity on this earth.
Paul knew this truth better than most. Besides struggling with the thorn in his flesh, he constantly faced death at the hands of his enemies. While he knew God continued to desire to utilize him for a higher purpose, he longed to be with his Savior. He explained his situation in his letter to the Philippians:
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake” (Philippians 1:21-24).
Later, during Emperor Nero’s reign, tradition tells us that Paul’s beheading allowed him to be with his heavenly Lord.
At the end of spring, one finds that even healing in this world is not enough. Ultimate healing will come at the end when the heavens and earth, including this earthly body, is renewed. I look forward to a fully functioning immune system and a body that does not age or sustain constant inflammation. The hope of renewal, including a new body, sustains in the meantime.
What are ways you observe the brokenness of this world—that it is not the way it was meant to be when created? List examples that relate to health and illness.
- How do people typically navigate the tension that comes from knowing that life on this earth is temporary?
- In what ways might investing in eternal hope and redemption bring an even greater sense of wholeness and healing to those who suffer in this world? For those with broken bodies?
For Further Thought
Meditate on 2 Corinthians 5:1: For we know that if the earthlytentwe live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
- Why is Paul so confident that he will have a heavenly tent/body in the next life? How confident are you that your body will be renewed as well?
- How might a believer think about suffering and death if they truly adopted this knowledge that Paul describes?
- In Romans 8:18 Paul finds comfort in acknowledging “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” How do you feel about his thoughts on present sufferings and future glory?
- Reflect on Isaiah 53:5 from the Servant Song. How does the suffering servant bring about healing? Is this healing promised for this life, the next, or both?
Close in Prayer
Praise and thank God for His healing and redemptive power to overcome the brokenness in this world and, if applicable, in your body. Ask God to make the hope of a future body in heaven a daily reality that sustains through whatever physical hardships may come.