“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
– Revelation 21:4
I’ve read about heaven many times, but until today, that verse was just a verse to me.
My life has been pretty amazing since I was born. The only real tragedy I remember was finding out my Dad had lymphoma, and I thank God that he’s still alive.
Aside from that, for as long as I can remember, nobody really, really close to me has died unexpectedly, or suffered a terrible accident. I’ve lost grandparents, but not friends. Friends have lost parents, but I have not.
When everyone really close to you seems more or less healthy, it’s easy to slip into a false sense of security – a security based on the fact that everything is OK, and will always be OK.
But everything won’t always be OK.
It doesn’t matter how much faith you have, it doesn’t matter how much or how little you’ve sinned.
One day you might find out that your kid has leukemia.
Someone linked to that site today and I began to read the back story. As I read about his kid complaining about pain, I could hear my son complaining. As I read about how they went to the hospital for tests, I could see myself in the hospital with my son.
When I read the part about trying to hide his grief, I could feel myself burning with rage over the injustice of having to explain life-threatening disease to a child.
And it was at that moment that I understood the significance of Revelation 21:4.
This world is a beautiful and awful place if you allow yourself to love people, and it can change from one extreme to the other with a single visit to the doctor.
Thinking of this reminds me of something Andy Stanley said (not a direct quote):
“The god that doesn’t let anything bad happen to us, that god never existed. That’s the god we carry around in our pocket, and we take him out whenever we need him, but he’s not real”.
That was a wakeup call for me because I used to believe that God would stop my plane from crashing if I prayed in tongues. I clung to this idea that God would protect me from tragedy if I just had enough faith.
This world is wonderful, but still broken and imperfect.
People we love will get sick, and suffer.
For as long as we are here, people we love will die.
Parents will bury kids.
Children will see only pictures of their mothers.
Soldiers will leave behind kids they never met.
People will die in shopping malls.
People will die in earthquakes.
People will just die.
And nobody will be ready for it.
And at some point in our lives, it will be awful. For everyone.
I do believe that people can get through great tragedy and I do believe that joy can be restored. It seems impossibly difficult to recover from losing a child or spouse. But people do it. Life goes on. They remarry, have new kids, and somehow, someway, they find joy again.
But I do believe in a place where there will be no more dying. No more parents burying kids, and no more losing the people we love.