And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
— Revelations 12:11

The theme of our devotionals this week was to be “Lessons we learned from COVID–19.” What a heavy topic. What did we not learn from COVID–19? It seems that everything we thought has changed.

When I think long about it, it seems that, in our big family, we learned that our time is one of our most precious commodities. Some of us lost jobs and income. Some of us became ill and were quarantined. Some of us lost our sports teams and schooling. Everyone lost something, but we all gained time. At first, we were scared and sad and a little lost and uncertain. Every time we turned around, some other bad news was delivered to our doorstep. Though the bad news didn’t stop coming, things slowly seemed to change.

Slowly we discovered something more precious than gold. More time gave us more togetherness, strengthened our marriages, reinforced multigenerational bonds, increased our understanding of one another, decreased our believed differences, raised our empathy, inspired creative ways to connect and visit with those isolated, and created of our family a well-oiled, working machine of togetherness. Our lives became better through the storm. We became more joyful and more in love with each other despite the increasing uncertainties of the world. In short, our souls grew. Our increased love for one another sparked and increased desire for the Lord. We began praying for our church to open completely so that we could worship the Lord in full, and we worshipped with open churches in the meantime.

Soul growth is a funny thing. While love and joy increase in this life, hope and strength in the next life grow even bigger. We learned that disease, fear, violence, politics and death ultimately have no hold on us. We learned that this life is so very important and such an incredible gift because it gives us but a fraction of a glimpse of the next life we have eternally with Christ as a gift from God Himself.

Because our joy in this life increased, our hope and longing for the next are magnified. What an incredible journey.

Sow with a view to righteousness,
Reap in accordance with kindness;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord
Until He comes to rain righteousness on you.

— Hosea 10:12