Hope, Visions of Heaven, Words of Endurance

Imagine setting off on the trip of a lifetime with no knowledge of your destination, no map, and no compass. It would be unthinkable! When we’re anticipating an important trip, we research our destination. We want to know what to expect, what to pack, what preparations we need to make to ensure a safe arrival and a pleasant experience. We want to learn as much about it as we can.

Yet many of us spend more time planning our annual vacation than we do preparing for our ultimate destination.

It’s not all that surprising that we don’t prepare for what’s ahead. We live in a climate of comfort. We have achieved some success in creating our own kind of heaven here on earth, and we want to hold onto it. As one caregiver has observed, “we are so entrenched in this world that we don’t want to let go. Our kids are here, our friends are here.”

Then, too this is the only life we’ve known, and we may have responsibilities that keep our thoughts very much tied to earth. A cancer patient and single mother said, “I don’t even want to think about heaven. I’ve always known that heaven is my home, but I’m not finished here.”

But the reality is, one day we will be finished here. One day we will let go, whether we’re ready to or not. So the question is, are we prepared?

Have you learned enough about heaven that you want to be there? Have you prepared for the journey to heaven’s gates? Have you shared enough of your life on earth with God that you long to spend an eternity in His presence? Does the reality of heaven infuse your daily life – yes, even your suffering – with an unquenchable hope?

The man who expects to go to heaven must take the time to study the route that will get him there.


Hope, Visions of Heaven, Words of Endurance

It’s easy to ignore heaven when life is sailing along smoothly, but suffering has a way of focusing our attention on heaven and what is truly important in your life. In her book, Heaven Your Real Home, Jone Eareckson Tada, who has been paralyzed for more than three decades, writes, “Broken homes and broken hearts crush our illusions that earth can keep its promises that it can really satisfy. Only the hope of heaven can truly move our passions off this world – which God knows could never fulfill us anyway – and place them where they will find their glorious fulfillment.”

God does not want us to live our lives on earth as if eternity doesn’t matter. In fact, Scripture tells us that everything we do has its reward on earth or in heaven. We can focus our hopes, dreams, and actions on what God considers to be valuable, and it will result in permanent, indestructible reward in heaven (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Or, we can set our sights on accumulating earthly treasure which will perish and be worthless in eternity (Matthew 6:20).

God’s desire is that we “may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance…” (Ephesians 1:18).


Pain, Visions of Heaven, Words of Endurance

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Hebrews 6:19

Sometimes heaven is the last thing we want to think about when we’re suffering. After all, to contemplate heaven is to admit that our suffering may ultimately take us there. We may want to spend eternity in heaven, but most of us, in the words of one cancer patient’s wife, “don’t want to go there today.”

Yet heaven offers us far more than a nice place to go when life on earth is over. Heaven assures us that we are eternal beings who were made for a life that earth simply cannot provide. Heaven offers us a rock-solid hope that the best is yet to come. The hope that heaven awaits us can be an anchor of strength that encourages us while we live through the hardships of life on earth. So consider these anchor points that hold fast in any storm.

HEAVEN ASSURES US THAT OUR SUFFERING WILL END. The pain we experience on earth will not last forever. Although we may struggle to keep the end in sight, there is an end. There is no suffering, sin, death, disease, or distress in heaven. Pastor Ted Haggard puts it simply, “If you are sick, it’s temporary. If your body is dying, you will not ide. When your body can no longer hold you, you…will step into eternity.”

Lord, give me the strength to endure my trial, my pain. My suffering blinds me and makes me shortsighted. Help me remember that You will one day set me free from this frail, fragile life and give me a life free of all suffering that will last forever.

OUR SUFFERING WILL BE ECLIPSED BY HEAVEN’S JOY. No matter how overwhelming or unrelenting our suffering may be on earth, it can’t begin to stack up against the permanent state of joy and ecstasy we will experience in heaven. The hope of heaven prompted the apostle Paul, a man who was well acquainted with intense suffering, to refer to his trials as “light and momentary” when compared with the “eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Imagine that! Our pain will be totally eclipsed by the beauty, splendor, and magnificence we will experience in heaven. Just as a cool glass of water is most appreciated by one who is thirsty, the joys of heaven will be most refreshing to those who have suffered on earth. That hope gives Sharol, who has fought seven recurrences of cancer, the confidence to say, “heaven makes it worth it all.”

Lord, my suffering feels oppressive and permanent – not the least bit light and momentary. The idea of experiencing eternal joy is beyond my comprehension right now. It’s too far away. Somehow place in my heart the hope and joy of heaven.

HEAVEN IS EVIDENCE THAT GOD IS IN CONTROL. The hardships, doubts, pain, uncertainty, heartache, and fear we experience during times of suffering make us feel very much out of control. During our darkest moments, some of us wonder if God notices, if He cares, or if He is helpless to assist us.

But the reality of heaven stands as a monument to the fact that God made us for a better world and that He is faithful to fulfill His promises. It reminds us that despite the difficulties in our lives, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28 NASB). When we step into heaven, we’ll marvel at how God has turned every apparent failure, tragedy, or loss into His triumph.

Lord, help me to remember Your love faithfulness. Don’t let me forget that You are in complete control. You care for me so deeply that You count every hair on my head as well as every tear on my cheek. Help me to remember that one day I will be face to face with You in perfect peace.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; Trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. 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 14:1-3