“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8)
We too can have the same confidence as the Apostle Paul when we truly believe from the heart that we shall rise from the grave. Job expressed it most clearly when he said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself and my eyes shall behold and not another” (Job 19:26, 27). Note the “I know” repeated.
How may one have such confidence? It can only come when the Father reveals it to us just as He did to Peter regarding the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:17). An unsaved person can never have this confidence. They may hope to rise and may even believe it is what the Bible teaches but they can never have the knowledge that they will rise as Job expressed. Job knew it as fact not a mere hope.
Jesus rebuked His disciples several times for their inadequate faith when faced with the normal tests of life that come. But even in the test faith is intended to grow just as it did for Job. The reason the Lord’s brings tests and trials our way are to reveal where we are in our walk of faith and to develop that faith further.
Satan would have us interpret our failures with finality and that we should give up trying. The first part of his accusation is false and should be renounced for the lie it is. The second part, though meant to discourage us has some truth in it. Perhaps we have been trying in the strength of the flesh instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to be our strength.
Yes, we may believe but without the special revelation of the Father, through the Word of God witnessed to by the Holy Spirit, we will never be as certain as Job. Do we really believe that absence from our body will really be our presence with the Lord? To be able to proclaim this with confidence we need to be refreshed in this truth by God’s Word and His Spirit from time to time.
Easter is a good time for deep reflection on this reality as is each time we meet for the Lord’s Table.
When a loved one passes to be with the Lord, we are tested in our belief that absent from this body of believers is present with all the body of believers who have gone on before. The test is so that we will be reaffirmed in that reality and be as Job who missed his first ten children and longed to see the Lord: “How my heart yearns within me” (Job 19:27).