The Bible doesn’t have much to say about heaven. Compared to other heavily mentioned topics like God’s relationship with us, and sin, and death, the teachings about heaven and hell are minimal. Revealing details about eternal life, or life “beyond the blue,” seems to be a minor purpose if you take into consideration the entire Bible text we have available.
On the other hand, death is serious business.
Throughout time, and consistently through the Bible, death is primarily dealt with as a curse on man’s existence. The words of Psalm 116 seem to be written by someone who has narrowly escaped death by God’s help.
“The cords and sorrows of death were around me and the terrors of Sheol (the place of the dead) had laid hold of me; I suffered anguish and grief.” (Vs. 3)
“For You have delivered my life from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling and falling. I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (Vs. 8, 9)
The Psalm writer describes his insight on God’s reaction to death.
“Precious (important and no light matter) in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (His loving ones).” (Vs.15 Amplified)
Very little is said about the possibility of life after death in the Old Testament. Sheol is mentioned, and it was believed by the Jews to be a place of “nothingness” where they went when they died. It was not similar in any way to the Christian’s uplifting understanding of heaven, which is described mostly in the very end of the Bible in Revelation.
If death is the dread of men, and the Bible is the source of God’ information to us, then why didn’t God tell men about eternity sooner in the sequence of the Bible?
We don’t really know.
Maybe God didn’t emphasize eternity repeatedly, because He wants us to know there is something more significant about NOW. Perhaps He hopes we will see that when we go through suffering NOW there is something more helpful to us than our ability to imagine what eternity will be like.
I think God knows there is a problem with us leaning entirely on our own “happy thoughts” about heaven to get us through hard times. The problem with imagination is that it fluctuates with our circumstances. On a good day, I can see in my mind the Bible’s description of the heavenly streets of gold, the absence of tears, and the presence of my loved ones who have gone before me. But on a bad day, when I might be overwhelmed by my physical needs, my imagination about heaven may fail to bring me consolation.
Sometimes life NOW is too harsh to keep me optimistic about eternity.
What do I do when I feel cruelly oppressed NOW?
Psalm 116 has clues about this exact dilemma. It portrays the very best resource for combating despondency from pain, suffering, and possible pending death.
This resource is the same foundation for our days on earth as it is for our days in eternity.
The foundation is God and our RELATIONSHIP TO HIM.
Whether we can imagine good things about the future, or we draw a blank, those who are related to Him—Christians, can call on God in our days of pending death or crises to be our help and consolation.
“I love the Lord, because He has heard (and now hears) my voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.” (Vs.1&2)
Imagining life “beyond the blue” can help, but it is not our primary resource of comfort.
God has offered to be our chief source of strength.
Do you know Him? Do you trust in Him?
God, thank you for working Your way so deep into my life that my thoughts of you are no longer full of fear and worry that You are out to “get me,” but that Your greatest desire is to love me and make me whole. I could NEVER have imagined that perspective, because my imaginings, although numerous, are so very flawed! You are the only source of perfect strength I can rely on. Continue to teach me how to gain comfort and strength from You until my very last breath from which I leave this world and enter into your world “beyond the blue.”
Oh dearest God, I pray the same prayer for so many people I know! Teach those who try to deal with the harsh circumstances of their life to also know You as their primary comfort and strength. Amen.