Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43
Jesus in on the cross, there are two criminals, one either side.
The word for Paradise is used three times in the New Testament, when Paul has a heavenly encounter with the Lord (2 Cor 12:4), in Rev 2:7 where the writer talks about the reward for overcoming and perseverance and here, where Jesus makes a promise to the thief on the cross.
In a moment the thief was saved, He turned to Jesus. It is never too late to turn to him, and whenever we do, His promise stands, that He has made a way for us, that whatever we are going through there is hope, hope of eternal life and life beyond death for those who believe. This is his amazing grace!
I think the western mindset is often fixed on the immediate, on the here and the now. We are materialistic, not in the sense of consumerism but in the sense that we tend to only think of the material realm without any regard for the spiritual realm that is all around us. But the bible says that all these things will pass away and there will be a new heaven and a new earth and for those who believe they will receive new bodies.(Matt 24:35, 2 Cor 5:1, 1 John 3:2, Rev 21:1,4)
Part of this season is fix our eyes on Jesus, on the hope of eternal life, but to not live our lives without reference to Him. This current season is shaking all the things that we trust in, that which we have found comfort in is being shaken. Our jobs, our freedom, finances, community. But in these trials, and they are trials, it is a time to fix our eyes on the hope that is to come. It is time to fix our eyes on Jesus. In the book of James, the writer says
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Whatever you are going through, there is hope. There is the paradise of God beyond the light and momentary afflictions that we suffer. The bible talks about this life being fleeting, and it is. It compares us also to the flowers of the fields, who are here for a season and are then gone. So let us do all we can in this life, but not forget there is a life that is to come. A paradise. A place of rest. A place where there is no suffering, where there is no sickness. Where there are no more tears (Rev 21:4).
So in this season, turn to the Lord, remember the hope that is to come.