Going through grief can feel overwhelming, heavy, and hopeless. As Christians we know that hope is never lost as we look towards dwelling with God as our final destination. This past year, I lost a friend unexpectedly and felt grief in a way I hadn’t felt before. I felt like something was wrong with me. I wanted so badly just to snap out of the dark cloud I felt over me. As I processed through my grief and reached out for encouragement, I learned that there is no way to just snap out of it. Grief is a process you have to walk through and feel. During this time, I also felt drawn to learn more about Heaven. I wanted to know more about the place my friend was currently experiencing and find hope in the loss I was feeling. I found learning more about Heaven to be very healing, and it ignited a world of imagination in me of what being there one day would really be like.
When you lose someone, a is void left. Every time you pick up the phone to call them, see something that makes you think of them, or attend a holiday dinner which they would normally attend, this ache can become incredibly overwhelming. As a response, I searched through scriptures and reassured myself of the truth that if your loved one is a believer you will see them again one day.
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
There is comfort found in imagining yourself tightly wrapping your arms around your loved one again one day, thinking to yourself about what it will be like to see them again face to face.
I believe that there is a peace that is found in imagining your loved one standing in the presence of God, thinking about the streets of gold they are walking on, and the indescribable joy they feel. I believe there is healing in thinking about the beautiful community they are enjoying with their brothers and sisters in Christ without any sin to blemish or interrupt those relationships.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
I love thinking about the personality God designed in them, and how that same personality is part of who they are and will continue to be in heaven also. The Bible also talks about having a feast in Heaven, that there will be mansions, and how many of the things we have come to know and experience on Earth will be plentiful. There is a comfort in knowing that although there are many unknown and new things that we will experience, there will also be some familiar things from earth that we will experience there also.
“I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11).
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3).
When you experience loss, it’s common to also think more about your own mortality. Our own death isn’t something we often think about, but, as we process through the loss of a loved one, we often find ourselves reminded that one day we also will pass away. Searching through scripture and seeking out a Biblically solid book about Heaven can help ease our fears of our own death. As we take time to process what our lives might be like in God's presence, with everything we will see, taste, and feel, it helps make the destination of Heaven feel more real and familiar to us. When we take time to think about being in the presence of such a good and wonderful God, who we have spent our lives striving to follow, there is a beautiful hope and excitement that comes alive within us.
After my friend suddenly passed and I started my search on what the Bible says heaven will be like, I found a passion to tell everyone about the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for our sins. When you confront the truth about there being a real Heaven and Hell, you feel an urgency to tell everyone the truth that if they confess their sins, and believe Jesus died them they will one day see heaven also.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
We are sinners, God sent his son to die as a sacrifice for our sins so we can be forgiven and be in his holy presence in the new Heaven & Earth, dwelling with him forever. What good news! When we are reminded how short life truly is, we become aware of the importance to make our time on this earth fully matter, continuing our focus of making disciples of all nations.
Although learning about Heaven can help us find some peace and comfort as we process through our loved ones death, our grief is still a very real and painful experience. Even Jesus experienced grief while he was on earth; he wept over the death of his friend Lazarus. Jesus knew he could raise Lazarus from the dead, and yet Jesus still felt the very earthly emotion of grief death brings.
“When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept” (1 John 1:9).
God understands our grief in a very real way, and knows the burden we feel as we experience it. He wants us to come to Him through scripture and prayer for comfort, knowing He is the only one that can bring any real comfort and hope to us as we process through our loss.
Rev. Jason Ruis
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster
Rev. Deb Koster