The Promise of a New Heaven and a New Earth: Hope for Parents in the Here and Now
In anticipation of our annual conference in October, we will be offering monthly articles that center on this year’s theme, The Promises of God. Now more than ever, when there seems to be no solid ground beneath our feet, we stand on the promises of God. In Christ we receive a new heart and a new spirit, becoming citizens of a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Join us at Rooted 2021 as we celebrate the One whose promises to us are trustworthy and true: For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 1:20 NIV)
My dad was diagnosed with cancer when I was 20. When he told me this news, it was difficult to take in his words. Dad was my rock, the person I leaned on in life’s uncertainties. For three years, Dad fought the disease, but all the while, life continued forward. I became engaged during his battle with cancer and had the privilege of my father performing our wedding ceremony.
The last year of my dad’s life was also the year I found out I was pregnant with our first child. The dichotomy of impending death and new life was not lost on me during this time. While I watched the suffering of my dear father, I simultaneously watched my body transform as my baby grew. The sadness I felt seeing dad endure such hardship did not dissipate, but I had so much excitement for what was to come. In the moments I felt the pangs of sickness and death, I also felt the fluttering of little kicks and hiccups which forced me to anticipate the joy and beauty of what was to come.
In a similar way, the passages in the Bible that talk about the New Heaven and the New Earth remind us to look ahead with anticipation. In the midst of the brokenness of our world, the promise of eternity is like the flutters I felt in my pregnancy. This promise reminds believers in Jesus Christ that restoration is coming. There will be a day when God makes all things new again, and that is not a dream or a myth for those who believe in the risen Lord. This is our future reality.
Revelation 21:4 is where we find a promise of what is come: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” As we face daily challenges and anxieties, including raising teens in a world that pushes against Scriptural truth, we can cling to the promise of this glorious hope.
The New Heavens and The New Earth Are Our Future.
In Revelation 21, the Apostle John focuses on the New Jerusalem. This is different from the earthly city of Jerusalem; instead, it’s a heavenly city, and the builder is God himself. In this chapter, John attempts to describe what is indescribable, and verse four is particularly striking for those with burdened hearts: when Jesus returns, there will be no more “mourning, nor crying, nor pain…”
Suffering is inevitable in this life. We all experienced grief to some extent with the onset of COVID. I watched this year as a dear friend laid her husband to rest after weeks of battling the disease. We will face the death of loved ones, we will grieve disappointments, and our hearts will ache when our teens don’t follow in the ways of the Lord. It’s during these times that the promise of what is to come washes over us, providing needed refreshment. Can you feel the flutter? There is reason to live in hopeful anticipation because our future is one void of tears, pain, heartache, and confusion. All the difficult emotions that plague our day-to-day will be gone. Forever.
Because this is our future, we shouldn’t be shy in talking about it. Share with your teens what the Bible says about the New Heavens and New Earth. Read Revelation 21 and ask how the promise of what is to come stands in opposition to what the world says is our future reality. The world leaves us with doubt and uncertainty, but our future hope in Jesus gives us joy and security.
Clinging to this hope doesn’t mean ignoring the grief and joy in the here and the now, but we should always be mindful of our future reality. Like the flutters that every so often caused me to pause with anticipation in the midst of my grief, having an eternal perspective allows us to live in today with patience and hope no matter what may unfold.
This promise in Revelation has kept me from fretting in many seasons of parenthood. Knowing that our future is secure helps me avoid becoming undone when a child makes poor choices. Knowing that there will be a day when the Lord will take away sorrow gives me comfort when my child comes home in tears. And knowing our future hope motivates me to point my children toward Jesus even when the world is tirelessly vying for their attention. These griefs do not have the final say, and when Jesus returns, the eyes of all will be on our Savior and King, and that will be just the beginning of our glorious eternity.
The New Heavens and the New Earth Will be Glorious.
Studying prophetic books in Scripture can seem daunting, but I encourage you to dig into them. We need to be diligently studying the whole counsel of God including the passages that give us glimpses of the glory that is to come.
While the Bible doesn’t give us a complete picture of what it will be like when Jesus returns, we have bits and pieces of that picture, and as the pieces are put together, what it begins to reveal is remarkable. We won’t know what it will look like in its fullness until Jesus comes back, but what we do know is that this creation will be perfectly renewed (Romans 8:21).
John Piper explains that “God will renovate the whole thing – a kind of global rehab project. And everything futile and evil and painful will be done away.” It will be a New Earth, and the hardship that we face in this life makes the promise of that reality even more beautiful.
Talking about a perfected here and now makes the future more concrete for our teens. Imagine with them what perfect friendships might looks like; dream together about what our homes might be like when all is perfectly restored. Remind them that there is nothing in this life more significant to look forward to than the day when Jesus returns and makes all things new again. It will happen. He is coming. Praise be to Jesus.
May we live in daily anticipation of that return, praying hopefully and expectantly, “Come Lord Jesus, come!”