Cancer, Fear, Hope, Visions of Heaven, Words of Endurance

Discovering the Hope of Heaven

by Jan Dravecky

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6

When I was a child, I could grasp the idea of God a little bit; I thought of HIm like a big granddaddy in the sky. But the idea of heaven was more difficult; it was just way, way out there somewhere. It wasn’t something I knew much about, and for a long time I rarely thought about it.

Since then I’ve realized that many of us are a bit like children when it comes to thinking about heaven. We like the idea of living with God forever in heavenly bliss, but we rarely give heaven a second thought. It’s hard to believe, but the place we plan to spend eternity remains a mystery to us.

Heaven is a mystery in part because we are incapable of fully comprehending what it will be like and what it will mean to us. It is also a mystery because we don’t investigate it. We rarely give heaven a second thought until the pain and suffering of this life forces us to grasp for a greater hope.

I never realized how important heaven was until Dave got cancer. Then, heaven got my attention! When the threat of death became real to me, the reality of heaven zoomed into focus. The hope of heaven was something I could look forward to and hang onto no matter what was happening in my life on earth.

But as comforting as the hope of heaven was, something still bothered me: I didn’t know much about heaven. It still seemed too distant, too unknown. Because I am an inquisitive person, I began asking questions. What, exactly, will heaven be like? I wondered. What will my body be like? When will I get to heaven? And on and on.

I looked first for books about heaven, but at the time there were very few books on the subject. So my search for answers led me straight to the Scriptures. And the more I learned, the more excited I became.

One of my big questions about heaven was what would happen to our physical bodies. Dave, after all, was facing the loss of a limb. So imagine my excitement as I read 1 Corinthians 15:42-44: “The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” What a comfort to learn that our earthly bodies are temporary – they are not made to last – and we will be raised up and given new bodies that are appropriate for heaven!

I also wanted to learn what heaven was like and what life would be like there. So I began reading the portions of Scripture that describe these things

The visual descriptions of heaven are truly amazing – incredible images of beauty, light, color, purity, and abundant life. But even more amazing to me were the descriptions of how we would experience life in heaven. The pain and suffering I saw in life on earth had always troubled me, but in Revelation 21:3-5, I read about God living with His people and wiping away “every tear from their eyes.” In heaven, God will make everything new! The old order of death, mourning, crying, and pain that we have known our entire lives will be no more! What a wonderful comfort that is!

As I investigated the truth about heaven, I not only found comfort, I gained a whole new perspective on life. I discovered that heaven truly is a wonderful gift. Even more important, I learned that nothing here on earth can take away the promise of living with God forever. Now that’s a hope we can hold onto!

Cultivate, then, your hope…speak of heaven and act as though you really expected to go there. Make the world know that you have a hope of heaven…that you are a believer in eternal glory and that your hope to be where Jesus is.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon