The truth about heaven is that most people you know or have ever known will not be there. Actually, you won’t either: heaven is where God lives, and when the Apocalypse is over, the Enemy and his servants are forever in the Lake of Fire, and Yeshua rules over the new earth, the “saved” will be living on the new earth.
Yet, when someone loses a loved member of their family or friend, they almost always say something like, “Well, they’re in a better place now.”
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How do you know? How can anyone be certain that someone else’s heart was truly for God, that they lived according to God’s ways, and that they had accepted Yeshua/Jesus on their own merit and not just because someone told them they had to?
On the other hand, if we know someone lived a sinful life, rejecting God, Yeshua, and all his instructions, can we really be certain that he or she is in hell? How do we know whether or not in their last moment of clarity they repented of their evil and asked for forgiveness?
We can’t, and we will never know if they made it or not until we are there, too.
My family recently suffered such a loss. A sibling who had been depressed and didn’t take the medications he was supposed to be taking, allowed himself to become so sick that he passed away. We all tried to help him, but what he wanted was not possible from any of us, so here we are, frustrated, upset, angry, and missing him.
But is it right to console ourselves by saying he is in a better place, even if we aren’t certain that he is?
The truth of God’s word is that anyone who lives an unrepentantly sinful life will suffer eternally out of the presence of God, and we know that as much as God loves us all, even those who reject and hate him, he would rather not see anyone die, but turn from their sin and live, eternally, in his presence, joyful throughout time (Ezekiel 18:23).
But, on the other hand, we also know that because God is holy, trustworthy, and said he will not allow the guilty to go unpunished (Exodus 34:7), well…
So what do we say to those grieving the loss of a loved one who we know, absolutely, did not live in accordance with God’s instructions? I mean, not even close! When they say he is better off now, do we deny that and tell them the (probable) truth that he will forever suffer? Or do we go along with their hope (against hope) that he will be happy now that he is in heaven?
For me, I think that truth is paramount, but not always more important than love. Shaul (Paul) once told his congregation in Corinth that without love he is nothing, and if a “nothing” tells you something, then the best value it can have is…nothing! So I believe that loving compassion and understanding trumps truth when it comes to the feelings of someone in emotional pain over the loss of a loved one.
Maybe later, when the initial shock and depression is over, we can approach that person with the truth regarding their own life, never saying their loved one is in trouble but giving a general understanding of how things work with God, and (hopefully) they will figure it out for themselves.
In Catholicism, the living are told to light candles and say prayers for those in Purgatory so that they will be forgiven and allowed to enter heaven. Even though the Roman Catholic Church has admitted there is no biblical justification for the idea of purgatory, which could kill all the money they make from Mass Card sales, yet many “good” Catholics still buy them. And what good can it do?
God gives us our entire life, down to our last breath, to do what is right in his eyes, even if that is just confessing our sin and asking forgiveness through Messiah Yeshua. That is all there is to it; of course, you have to mean it, but I believe anyone on their deathbed or realizing that this is IT will be honest.
Too many times I read in discussion groups or postings between people someone being cruelly straightforward about the word of God and how wrong the other person is.
Even if the one being terse and discompassionate is correct, they won’t make any “points” with anyone else by being so heartless and cold. The truth is that the truth won’t mean anything if someone can’t hear it because they are too emotionally deafened by the other person’s anger, pridefulness, and lack of love in telling that truth.
There is an old saying in the Sales industry: No one cares what you know until they know that you care.
So when you are in a situation where you know someone suffering the loss of a loved one is lying to themself when they say the dead person is better off now, go along with it. Even if you are pretty certain that the one who has passed is most likely not going to go through that narrow gate, let it be for the moment.
Love doesn’t conquer all, as the divorce rate proves, but it is always better than not being loving. Acknowledge their pain, show loving compassion, and let the truth sit on the sidelines for the time being. The truth never changes, so it will be there for them when they are ready to hear it.
God is the epitome of love, and love is better than truth in some cases; so, when you feel you just have to tell the truth to someone, if you can’t tell it with love then you should just keep quiet so that you don’t waste God’s truth by telling it in an ungodly way.
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!