When We All Get to Heaven

When We All Get to Heaven

A friend of mine who is in her mid-twenties recently posted that one of her favorite songs is the one we are considering today. On the one hand it heartened me, because it is a rare younger person who gives much thought to heaven. Younger folk are generally so engaged in pursuing the exciting and new things of the world that they often give little thought to what lies beyond. I remember thinking when I was in my teens, “I hope Jesus doesn’t come back before I get married.” And later my thought was, “I hope I don’t die before my kids are older.” I know I’m not alone in these thoughts, because others have shared similar ones with me. When all is going well, Heaven is something we push away because we are having plenty of good times down here, so Heaven gets eclipsed.

Which leads to the other hand: Part of why my young friend is one who thinks about heaven more than most is because she is suffering. While she has been suffering well, by keeping her eyes on Jesus, it has given her a perspective on this world that exceeds her years. She knows the wondrous love of Jesus in the midst of her pain. She’s tasted His mercy and His grace as it has ministered to her in her sorrow and pain. She has gained the perspective that although the agony seems endless, the Scriptures promise that it is “light and momentary” in comparison to the glory which will be ours for eternity. Like Jesus, she looks to the joy on the other side of her cross.

In some respects, those who suffer can long for heaven solely to be removed from the pain that they are experiencing in the present. But those who have found Jesus to be their Rock and Refuge, their Strength and Shield, their Hiding Place and only solace from their sorrow grow so much more deeply in love with Him that it is truly Him they long to see, not just the streets of gold, the long departed loved ones, or an end to their pain. I often hear people talk about who it is they can’t wait to see in Heaven, and Jesus isn’t always at the top of their list, sometimes He doesn’t make their list at all. That saddens me, and that’s why I love that this song emphasizes seeing Jesus as the source of our singing and shouting of victory. It truly is that “Just one glimpse of Him in glory will the toils of life repay.” Any suffering or sorrow we have experienced down here will be more than made up for by being in His presence, in fullness of joy, forever.

Pastor Jay has frequently mentioned that the book of Revelation is particularly precious to Christians under persecution. This is because it reminds them that there is more for those who believe in Jesus than just this world. There is a blessed day coming when the many precious promises God has made will be fulfilled. And these promises were not made just for us. There were many promises made to Jesus. He chose to suffer to bring many children to glory, but for this He has been promised to come back victorious, to place every enemy under His feet, to reign forever, and to receive His cleansed and spotless bride—us, His redeemed. We know for certain that the Father will fulfill every promise to His beloved Son, and we are included in those promises.

Another book in the Scriptures was written particularly for a suffering people, and that is Hebrews. What is so wonderful about that book is how focused it is on Jesus, and how it presents Him as the greatest of all—greater than the angels, greater than Moses, greatest High Priest—nothing and no one surpasses Him in anything. When we are suffering one of the best solaces is to focus on the wonders of Jesus, to remember what He has promised, and to look beyond this troubled world to our final home. As another wonderful hymn of this genre reminds us, “the things of earth that caused our hearts to tremble, remembered then will only bring a smile. But until then our hearts will go on singing, until then with joy we’ll carry on, until the day our eyes behold the city, until the day God calls us home.

So, when we are called to suffer, let us “fix our eyes on Jesus,” for He is not only our example of how to suffer, but He is our certain hope, the goal of our faith, the lover of our soul, and the object of our worship both now and forever. And if we are not suffering, we should still do our best not to let those things of the world which will only pass away eclipse Him. Instead, we should cultivate a heaven-ward perspective, and fan the flames of our desires to be with Him. If we have children, we should be inculcating in them the joy and desires to be with their Savior, as well. That way, when we all get to Heaven it will, indeed, be a day of rejoicing, as we all gather around the throne to sing and shout Christ’s victory and bask in His love.