Will Carroll, the drummer for the black metal band, Death Angel, recently contracted Covid-19. Carroll’s condition was so critical that he was placed in a medically-induced coma for almost two-weeks. Doctors are still amazed that he survived. But, even more significantly, according to news reports:

While in the coma, Carroll said he had dreams of visiting the afterlife. He saw himself leave his body and plummet down to hell, where Satan—a woman in his case—punished him for the deadly sin of sloth, morphing him into a Jabba the Hutt-like-monster who vomited blood until he had a heart attack.

“I woke up on the hospital bed with tubes coming in and out of me, and there was a nurse right there and my first words were, ‘Am I still in hell?’” Carroll said. “She ignored me.”

How should one respond when given such a second chance at both life and also the possibility for repentance? In Luke chapter 16, Jesus tells the story of a man suffering the everlasting torments of hell. And he pleads with Abraham for the opportunity to warn his five brothers of the awful fate that awaits them. But when he is told that he cannot, then he asks for Lazarus—a poor man he never helped in his life—to be sent to persuade them. But again, Abraham responds that if they won’t listen to the Bible (Moses and the Prophets) then they won’t be convinced even if someone comes back from the dead.

This story has always interested me because not only does Jesus bring a man named Lazarus back from the dead (see John 11:1-44) but He Himself performed the same miraculous feat. And yet, still people fail to re-consider their ways. But what if a person themselves had the opportunity to witness it, just like Will Carroll did? Well, according to the same news report:

Carroll, who celebrated his 47th birthday on Wednesday, May 13, said his near-death experience gave him a new outlook on life. He now plans on living a healthier life without hard alcohol or bong rips, though he’ll still drink the occasional hard cider and narrow his marijuana use to edibles. He also adopted a belief in a higher power; he feels the prayers from his family and friends helped him pull through.

“I’m still going to listen to satanic metal, and I still love Deicide and bands like that,” Carroll said. “As far as for my personal life and my experience of what I went through, I don’t think Satan’s quite as cool as I used to.”

Sadly, this highlights the underlying problem. As fallen human beings we simply love the pleasures of our sin more than we do the One who made us. We want to live for ourselves. And even when we’re given the most prescient warning one could receive, it is not enough for us to change. To do that we need the supernatural grace of God to bring us from death to life (i.e. Eph. 2:3-5)

Covid-19 has disrupted the plans and ambitions of everyone in the world. But in the LORD’s hands it has also provided an opportunity to speak of the incredible hope that we have in Christ. Of He who is the first and the last. The Living One who was dead, but is alive for ever and ever. Who alone holds the keys to death and Hades. (Rev. 1:17-18)