Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Even during the best, happiest moments of our lives, we can relate to what Paul meant by feeling “torn between the two.” Even the best things this life offers could never hold a candle to the glories of the life to come. Heaven will be our great reward, and it will certainly be better in every possible way than what we experience here and now. If during our best moments we long for heaven, how much more do we desire it when the burdens and worries of this life weigh heavily on our hearts.
The tension in Paul’s heart was intensified by his great burden for the lost. For him, remaining in this life meant more time to share the good news, more opportunities to reach people for Christ and more ways to encourage his friends in the church. I hope we also feel a sense of mission, that we are here for a purpose, not just waiting for heaven.
We are living through an unusual and difficult “meantime,” a waiting time, an in-between time. We are waiting for life to get back to normal and for all our usual activities and opportunities to resume. In this meantime, we should long after heaven. We should anticipate the glories of God’s presence and rejoice in the promise that all our burdens will one day be lifted. But in this meantime, we also still have a mission. We are still called to share the love and message of Jesus with people in need. May God show us how we can live for Christ, even now.
Father, You created me on purpose. You have called me to know and love You and to serve those in need around me. Use me, according to Your good will, to bless others and to share with them the love and message of Jesus. In His name, Amen.