I sometimes imagine what life was like in the Garden of Eden. There was perfect harmony with God and between all of creation. There was no illness or death, which is hard to fathom. Yet this was the reality of the state of innocence before the Fall. But that reality is no more. Once sin entered the picture, a new reality took hold. What was once whole and healthy is now broken and dying. Even if you never had a single sick day in your life, the rate of decay is going to eventually outpace the rate of cell growth. Surgery may be able to nip this and tuck that. Medical research may provide new treatments, but there is no fountain of youth. There is no elixir of life.
The sad prognosis of this present reality has been on my mind quite a bit lately because I have a family member with Alzheimer's. The disease is still in its early stage, and I'm very thankful for the quality of life and function my loved one still has. But I know what the expected progression will be barring divine intervention or a sudden medical breakthrough. I grieve because I see a person with a razor-sharp mind having memories whittled away bit by bit. I grieve because dementia impacts family and friends as they suffer alongside the patient. I grieve because I am witnessing the effects of the Fall in action, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it.
Where do we look for hope knowing there is no cure? What comfort is there to give knowing the outcome? As I was discussing this with family, I was reminded of and comforted by these words from the Apostle's Creed:
"I believe in... the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting."
If the scope of our hope is for this life alone, we are to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:19) But in Christ, we have a sure expectation of something far better - the resurrection of our bodies and the life to come. The Fall may have brought in one reality, but Christ has brought in a new and better reality. This is what we are waiting for, and this is the ultimate reality for my loved one even if a cure for Alzheimer's is never found.
Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep,but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15:51-57
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.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Rev. 5:4-5