Last week, I wrote about the first of 2 resources we have as Christians that those who do not believe do not have. The second provision God has promised us that helps so much in grief is the Hope of Heaven. I know this sometimes is referred to as “pie in the sky by and by.” But, when your beloved child has died, Heaven becomes much more real than “pie.” Paul, in his first letter to Thessalonica, refers to our hope of heaven:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,that … we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. I Thessalonians 4:13-15, 17-18
Those 3 little dots contain information about how and when we believers with be reunited with Christ and with one another. The news is so good that Paul directs us to encourage one another with thoughts and promises about heaven. Our guide book, the Bible, only tells us a little about heaven. I think our knowledge is limited because if we knew even a little bit more, life here would be even more unsatisfactory! First, God wants us the live here. For that He gives us abundant life. Even the little information He has given about life in heaven is more than we can really understand. So study and encourage one another with what has been revealed so far.
In heaven all values are upside down – you know the streets are paved with gold because gold isn’t worth more than gravel. In heaven there is no pain. After the experience of your child’s death, is that not GREAT news!! Now there is pain in dying itself and pain in the grieving afterward. In heaven it’s all gone. Also, there are no more tears. Haven’t you cried enough already? In heaven, death is dead!
In heaven we will know each other (as the disciples knew Moses on the mount of transfiguration) and we will know God for real. All the questions we have now about Him, and about how the revealed God could plan or allow things that happened here, will either be answered or we will know they don’t matter. We will see Jesus, without any mystery or anything to distort or disrupt our understanding. In heaven we have unlimited time to spend building our relationships with people and with Jesus. We will have jobs to do like Adam was given in the garden in Eden, before the fall. It won’t be boring.
Whatever questions you struggled with, you will understand. Whatever physical issues or limitations your child faced – it’s all gone! Everything will be fully restored. If you child lost his leg to cancer or an auto accident, it’s restored. If your relationship with someone in your family or neighborhood was disturbed by your child’s condition, it is redeemed.
The hope of heaven tells us that this is not all there is! I’m sure you have had that sense since your child died. It is clear, we are created for so much more than we can ever experience on this planet. That “more” is what is found in heaven. The hope of heaven tells us all unfinished business and all injustice will be sorted out and corrected. Everything will be put RIGHT. What we long for in relationships are like sign posts for the community God is preparing for us all. He’s working on it now so it’s ready when each of us arrives.
So we have the hope of heaven:
- That everything is put right.
- That you will see Jesus and the children who arrived there before you
- That you will have a new understanding of how and why. This new understanding will be satisfying.
- That there will be peace and joy, not pain and sorrow.
I don’t know about you but I am looking forward to living in that Heavenly Neighborhood! So, until then I live with a longing and awareness that keeps me focused. This hope guides my choices and even my emotions now. I wait, patiently but hopefully. And continue doing what I need to do to get there – receiving the grace Jesus offers to us.
May your peace, hope and focus grow!
(Here are some of the most important scripture references that went into this thinking: I Corinthians 15; Hebrews 4:14-16; Revelation 21:1-6; Psalm 42 speaks of the longing for a better relationship and better world= heaven; Matthew 17:1-9; Genesis 2:15, 19-20; Luke 23:39-43)