For some reason, Heaven has been on my mind lately. I couldn’t tell you exactly why. I could speculate. I mean, there are a lot of little details that are probably motivating me to think about it, but those aren’t really important. What I want to work out is what’s really happening.
The world is full of confusion, disappointment, heartache, you name it. It’s been this way for as long as anyone can remember, yet a part of us remembers something better. There is a tension between living and dying that we sense as pain. If you know the passage of scripture in which the apostle Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21-26), that’s what he’s talking about. We’re being pulled in two directions at the same time. During adversity, we are pulled toward death because we know that we will finally be with Christ, with whom every sin and every burden is gone. But this feeling is not the case at all times.
One of the greatest tensions of a Christian is between the desire to live fully here and the desire for pure life with Christ outside of the fallen world. In other words, we want to be in Heaven, but we don’t exactly want to die. We want life here to be as it was intended to be because we know it was intended to be beautiful, not how it is, and not how it must be because of the fall. That’s perfectly understandable. It’s even okay, but we need to move from there into the reality that we now live in.
Things are far from okay here, even though there exist bubbles of isolation from the harsh outer world. Unfortunately, though, they burst. The tension is just too great for them to remain intact. Eventually, pain and hope intermingle, but that can be a good thing.
Pain can be a reminder that you still know what hope is, even though it may seem far away; and hope can remind you to be grateful, humble, and reach out to those who are in pain, caught between worlds, looking for a purpose.