On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.
The Mayo Clinic researched belonging and found we cannot separate the importance of a sense of belonging from our physical and mental health. When we feel we have support and a sense of community, we are more resilient, often coping more effectively with difficult times in our lives. Coping well with hardships decreases the physical and mental effects of these situations, leading to better overall health.
Knowing this, it seems an unlikely coincidence that belonging leads to better health and that throughout the New Testament, Jesus shows us how God intends for us to live—in community with and to support one another as brothers and sisters in Him.
In third grade, my teacher assigned each of us a family tree project. I remember sitting at my kitchen table with a large white posterboard, intently listening to my parents proudly sharing stories of how my grandparents came to the United States. They had faced hardships in their homeland and had family who had moved to the U.S. for the promise of a better life, which they had found. Their family paved the way and opened the figurative gate for my grandparents to make this life-changing move years later.
Receiving encouragement and support from their family, my grandparents packed up their belongings, boarded a boat, and left the life they knew. My parents explained that moving near family was not only comforting but it was also beneficial because they were moving into an established community of families starting brand new just like them. Within the community, they would share their harvests and help each other when in need. Despite arriving in a foreign land, they had a sense of immediate acceptance and belonging.
Much like my grandparents were welcomed with open arms when arriving in a foreign place, so we will be in Heaven. These verses in Revelation create a beautiful picture of how the new Heaven will be. One where the gates are always open, nations are united, and all who believe in Him will live eternally. Heaven will be our new home where there is only light, each of our needs are met, we are healed, and surrounded by God’s everlasting love.
Meditate and imagine walking alongside Jesus and your fellow brothers and sisters in the new Heaven depicted in Revelation. Pray and ask for guidance on how you can help create a sense of belonging in your encounters with others.