The following post came to fruition after I listened to the Journey Women Podcast interviewing Nancy Guthrie, Bible teacher and author. After listening, I took away this true and beautiful picture of the new heaven, as scripture supports.
I decided to jump out onto a limb, really jump out onto it. I never write this kind of thing, but wanted to place myself into the shoes of a young Danish woman living during the German occupation of Copenhagen during World War II. She is my subject, writing to her friend living in Oslo, Norway (also occupied by the Germans). Both countries would be ruled by the Nazis until 1945. The neutral country of Sweden was a destination for Jews trying to escape Denmark and nearby countries (hence, the reference to her Jewish friend below). The port of Copenhagen was a common escape route. I am not sure any of us could fully place ourselves mentally into the time period and circumstances surrounding these two women. We know how the war ended, but in 1943, they did not. Does this sound familiar? We KNOW how the story ends for all mortal life on earth. We have the Bible to point to the hope of the resurrection. We have the Biblical account of the resurrection, we have the hope of our resurrection:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so wel will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, ESV).
We have the hope of the consummation, when Christ will come again: “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven and from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:2, ESV)
The words below are meant to encourage you, as well as to point to a time in history. From our 21st century vantage point we can see the end of an historical event like World War II, yet we hold on to the hope of Christ, still. We are waiting in the already but not yet. The same hope of these two women is the hope we hold to today in 2021.
December 16, 1943
How are you, dear friend? I have longed to see you, but as you know, this war has given us all a time. With me in Copenhagen and you in Oslo, there are just so many obstacles. It has gotten harder. The Nazis just bombed Father’s business last week. The time it took him to build it and grow his customer base, all a pile of glass shards and ash on the city street. Such loss and grief. Poor Father cannot get over the fact that he had finally paid off the building this past year. Now, we have to rebuild and it seems we have lost everything. In my 22 years, I had never seen Father cry until last week.
My sweet friend (whose name I will not disclose) was taken last month to a concentration camp. She was on her way to Sweden. We did everything we could to keep her from being detected. The false papers did her no good. Where was God here, Anna?
We started reading our Bible again. I felt I had to write you, because I cannot contain what I have read and there is a stirring inside me that cannot be put to rest. You know, St. Lucia’s day fell on the day following the bombing. My nerves might still sting with the impact of the bomb’s blast, but on St. Lucia’s Day, I was reminded of the resurrection. St. Lucia had that hope. We have suffered this year, and I am sure you have too, my friend. There is hope, but I found hope at a very unlikely time – or, so I thought. I am beginning to believe that suffering is where we find the hope that was there all along.
The suffering points me to this longing for Jesus to return. He will return, Anna! I long for it even more now than ever before! There is a time coming when God will come back to dwell with his people in the new heaven, the new earth. The whole of the earth will be the most holy place, where God’s presence dwells. How do I know this? Look at Revelation, chapter 21, verse 3.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.’ (King James Version)
Do you know that this war will end one day? We face troubles of various sorts here on earth. I can say with certainty that one day, these will be no more.
Behold, Revelation, chapter 21, verse 4:
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (King James Version)
Anna, I wish you a very, merry Christmas. Hope in the resurrection. Hold on just a bit longer. We will not say goodbye to suffering until the day Jesus returns, but He will take care of suffering once and for all. His kingdom will be beautiful because Jesus is beautiful. Christ is the hope we have! Our hope is not the end of the war, though that will be nice. Christ is our true hope. I am longing for his return when we will have the garden again. All tribes will come together into the protection of His walls and we will enjoy a rollicking good time. There will be abundance, and we will be left saying, “All of this land, all of this abundance… for me?” He wants this for us. Hold on to Him and to His word, Anna. This life is but a vapor and reflection of what will be!