No Tears in Heaven
Someone wrote in and asked, “Let's suppose that God does award an eternity in heaven to me, but not my wife. How can I be eternally happy knowing she is not there but in the other place? What about any of my 4 children, 13 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren who don't make it? How could I be happy knowing any of them did not make it?” This is a good question that I will try to answer in this brief article.
The Bible says, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). The challenge we have is in understanding how God will accomplish this without robbing us entirely of our earthly memories. How can we find lasting joy in heaven if we know our son or daughter or wife or husband or parent or sibling is in a place that Jesus describes as a place where “the fire shall never be quenched” (Mark 9:42)? Who can be at peace with anyone going to hell, let alone among people we know and love?
Something to consider is how we now have moments of joy when there are people currently in similar conditions. Jesus gave the account of two people who died and said one was in Paradise (Luke 23:43) and the other in torments (Luke 16:23). He said the one in torments cried out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (v. 25). We have every reason to believe this is an actual account since Jesus Himself went to Hades and said others would meet Him there (Acts 2:31; Luke 23:43). Plus, He used specific names in this story, which was never the case in His parables. That being so, and people truly are in torments right now as Jesus said, how are we able to dismiss that thought and still have moments of joy? What makes it possible for us to celebrate on our wedding day, rejoice at our child’s birth, or sing at our baptism while others are now suffering? How can we be happy when we know others are in torments right now?
I believe a fair explanation is that we are able to do so because joy and pain are a result of our consciousness. We do not feel anything unless our mind is aware of it, which is why anesthetics work when we have surgery. We do not sense that our body is being cut open because our mind is unaware of the procedure. As long as our mind is unconscious of the surgery, we can have our entire body mangled and never feel a thing. Likewise, we now have moments of joy and happiness even in knowing others are in torments because our minds are not focused on them.
Perhaps the same thing will be true in eternity on a much larger scale. We will be so overwhelmed by the presence of God and His brightness that we will be unable to focus on anything else. We will be so elated and filled with joy by the presence of God and His eternal environment that we will only experience happy thoughts. Regardless, His promise is clear: “there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:3-5).
Another thought to consider is that we each will be individuals in God’s presence and no longer defined by human relationships. Jesus said, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:34-36). In eternity, there is no such thing as husband and wife, son or daughter, or child and grandparent. Perhaps this will make it easier to understand God’s righteous judgment against sin. In allowing us to see each other as individual souls, we will further comprehend why He casts away those who rebel against Him – even if they were once our earthly family.
Frankly friends, the only way to fully understand God’s promise of wiping away every tear is to experience it. And the only people promised relief in eternity are those who obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible says He is coming “with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). Behold, now is the time to enter His body (Galatians 3:26-27) and prepare for eternal life (1 John 5:11). Those who leave this world without having done so will experience instead the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).