Monday, December 17, 2012

Heaven's Hope

 It’s hard to think about happiness right now in light of the horrific tragedy in Connecticut.

When I heard the ages of the children who were killed, I saw the face of my grandson… and wept. Unimaginable.

I believe there is no greater loss on earth than the loss of a child.

I almost lost a child 4 ½ years ago. But we never lost hope. Never, not even in the most desperate clinging-to-life days. There was always hope for a miracle.

These parents have no such hope. They will never see their precious children again on earth. Just the thought of never seeing James’ big brown eyes again feels like a punch in the stomach.

How do you keep on living after that? How do you breathe?

But people do.

I know people who have.

I broke down and bought the Heaven is For Real book at Target yesterday. I read it in about an hour or so. I wanted to hear it in the words of a young child.

Of course there’s skeptical criticism about any book of this kind. (“The Bible doesn’t say we’ll have wings…” “Where does it say anything about animals?” etc.)

The specifics weren’t important to me. No human explanation of heaven will ever be perfect. We don’t have the vocabulary.

But the words of that little boy helped me. He was so matter-of-fact about what he’d seen and experienced.

Those of us who’ve never had a Near Death Experience must rely on faith, though not of our own mustering.

The Holy Spirit sends “blessed assurance.”

Emily Dickinson was a near-recluse, yet that assurance led her to pen these words:

I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.

I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.

I believe with all my heart that those children from Connecticut are alive and well in a far better place than this. Fully alive. Busy. Joyful. Happy. Engaged. Learning. Being saturated with more love than we can imagine.

Their loved ones on earth are walking through a deep valley of sadness that cannot be articulated. But surely some must have hope.

I pray that they do.

I pray that they have, or may come to have, this kind of hope:

“They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.” (Hebrews 11:35)

For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven.” (Colossians 1:4-5)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” (I Peter 1:3-6)

That’s the only kind of hope that makes it possible to endure the unendurable.


Father, we pray that you will minister to those grieving this unthinkable tragedy. Send your Holy Spirit to comfort and love in ways that words cannot express. Grant those who weep the gift of faith and hope in You. Give them eyes to see beyond the flimsy veil of life on earth to eternal realities. Comfort them with assurance that their precious ones are safe with You, beyond all pain and sadness forever and ever.  Amen.


Some books to whet your appetite about the future:

Heaven, Joni Eareckson
The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
Heaven, Randy Alcorn
The Heaven Answer Book, Billy Graham
Heaven Is For Real, Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent
To Heaven and Back, Dr. Mary C. Neal
The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, Kevin and Alex Malarkey

All are available through Amazon.

(The old saying “We don’t want to be so heavenly-minded that we’re no earthly good” seems to me to be obsolete. I think we need to be as heavenly-minded as possible these days. It makes us more earthly good.)

Please feel free to recommend other good books on Heaven in the comments.


So....if you've already read this today, you'll notice it has a different title now. That's because Granny had already published a post with that title! 

I need to sign up for Luminosity.  Or the New York Times crossword puzzle.

Anyway, here's another take on hope from the archives:

Please do re-read it if you need some extra hope today. I just did.


Anonymous said...

What happened is just so sad.

Your grandson really does have such beautiful eyes. That's one really big source of happiness and piece of heaven, right there.


Emily Ferris said...

Your Hope Against Hope blogs is one of my very favorites. I pray these families can cling to that hope in this terribly tragic time. I pray Jesus will draw near to them.

Callie said...

loved this post. i was flipping through a reader's digest just this morning and the first line of an article was "2013 is the year of hope". hope is something i have been clinging to for years. my car accident was in a town called Good Hope, the significance of which did not set on me until just recently. (the town is approximately 1.8 square miles) i stumbled upon this verse that absolutely rocked my world:

"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." 2 Thess 2:16-17

I hope this provides some eternal encouragement for you as it does for me every day!

Anonymous said...

The following is what our ArchBishop posted on FB today. Because you have been focusing on happiness (and especially after your post here, thought these words might be timely for you. Not really a new message, but maybe a fresh word for today.....

"Jesus promised “no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16.22) Happiness is determined by circumstances. It has a great deal to do with good fortune or luck. It is in a way the experience of feeling good. Joy, on the other hand, is not dependent on circumstances. While happiness is inspired by an external event, joy is internal and is constant. Christian joy comes about by living in a surrendered and submissive faith in Christ and His promises. There is joy in knowing that on a daily basis one is in God’s will and living in God’s way. Joy and peace are often experienced together and compliment each other. No one can take our joy from us but we can give it away if we are constantly looking for happiness instead of holiness. Living in the presence of the Lord Holy Spirit enables us to persevere in faith, hope, and love knowing that we are able to bear any sorrow or pain. It knows that neither life nor death can separate us from the love of God."

Blessings to you friend!

Kim said...

Thank you all for these wonderful comments!

Callie, I love that scripture! I pray this will be a year of hope for us all.

Lori, I love the one from John, too! So much meat in those few words! And these words are so wise: "No one can take our joy from us but we can give it away if we are constantly looking for happiness instead of holiness." So true. I'm working on part 2 of the Happy post, then planning on writing about Joy after that. Very timely!

Love to you all,

Kim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Happy New Year. Looking forward to hearing more on joy and happiness. Take good care. Em