How do we know if Heaven is real?

Hello and thank you for taking the time to listen and answer my question…

Recently, my family and I suffered a tragic loss. My wife went into preterm labor earlier this year, and gave birth to our son Daniel who did not survive. My wife and I held our son for hours at the hospital before coming home and breaking the news to our family. We have two beautiful daughters (5yrs and 2yrs). Watching my oldest daughter comprehend what happened, and watching her go into a state of immense grief, was almost harder for me than going through the initial loss of our child.

Since then, we’ve been processing through this season of grief as a family. I’m taken back by how Good God is to us. I’ve never experienced so much authentic joy in the midst of immense sorrow. God truly is a redeemer and healer. My wife and I are both Christians, and we full heartedly believe and trust in the teachings of God’s Holy Word.

My oldest daughter loves Jesus, and constantly impresses me by her eagerness to learn about Him. She recently asked me at a very random moment, “Dad, How do we know if Heaven is real if we haven’t seen it?”. This is such a basic question, but it really threw me off. I know that she’s thinking a lot more about Heaven due to losing her brother, and I didn’t want to give her a generic “because the Bible says so” answer. That is the answer I gave her though haha, but added to it. I explained to her the 4 questions that we all must ask (origin, meaning, morality, and destiny), and explained to her that the Bible meets all of these topics, which is why we should trust what it says. But I still feel that as her father, I need to give her a more in depth answer. The question threw me off, because I typically think of these questions, if they were being asked by some one who is an atheist or of another belief structure, to where they would need to ask themselves the same questions they’re demanding from the Bible. But coming from a 5yr old christian, the question has a different meaning.

How would you answer this and make it so a young child could comprehend the answer? I so appreciate you taking the time to read this, and I pray that your are being richly blessed in whatever season our Lord has you in.

Respectfully,
Travis

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FIrst, Travis, I want to express my deepest sorrow for your loss. I know that you know that you will see Daniel again for eternity, but even the fullest faith does not suffer these losses unscathed. I sometimes imagine losing my child, and pangs of grief well up inside me even though these thoughts are just images in my mind.

This leads me to your daughter’s question. Bless her! It is good that she is asking these questions. It speaks volumes about her relationship with you. She has suffered the first wound of wisdom and she expresses it to you with a perceptive question! I imagine that if my son were to ask me that question, I would take him to the park to experience the dim beauty of nature. I would then ask him how he knows that the wind exists if he cannot see it. The trees clap when the wind blows–clap for what? How beautiful the blossoms are–compared to what? What is the most beautiful thing that he can imagine? Is there something still greater? When the lightning flashes and the thunder rumbles, who speaks? Who created the birds and butterflies that fly before humankind created airplanes? Your daughter is much more beautiful than a Barbie doll–who created her? Who gave her the wisdom to ask that question?

Paul wrote that creation groans for freedom from corruption and the advent of glory along with God’s children (Romans 8:18-25). Your daughter is groaning. Groan with her, dream of glory with her, and celebrate the fact that Daniel is already experiencing that glory.

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@Travis77 - Losing any loved one is difficult, and losing a little one is excruciatingly painful. I will pray for you and your family and, more importantly, for your daughter. Even adults struggle with these questions, and I pray to God to answer her question as well.

I understand why you say so and appreciate your honest approach to 5 years old as well. At the same time, we are called to live by faith, and based on my experience bible is our compass to show the direction. I will try to give you a few references so that you can talk to your daughter using the words of Jesus directly.
John 14:1-3 Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My father’s house has many rooms. If that were not so, would I have told you that 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 3:13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven - the Son of Man

I would also suggest you use the stories to share the full background behind the story so that she can understand it better.
Luke 23:42-43 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. " Jesus answered him, "truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.

Lastly, I would also suggest sharing in smaller nuggets from Revelation 21, particularly from verses 1-4 and Revelation 22:1-5. These verses are helping us to understand heaven.

You may also share with your daughter that heaven is not a special place, but because we can be there with Jesus, it is called “Heaven,” and that’s also the only reason it is a special place.

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Actually, I’d say that “For the Bible tells me so” really is your best answer. You can also use others, but I’d consider them as corroborrating evidences - the Bible is your primary one. I think @samshankar has made a good point - rather than a generic biblical statement about heaven, use specific verses such as the ones he’s listed.

But after citing such verses, if you want to raise other supporting thoughts, then I believe the arguments we sometimes hear for God’s existence apply just as well to heaven’s - which makes sense since heaven at it’s core is simply the presence of God - just as His absence is the essence of hell.

For example, the universal longing that all mankind has for heaven implies that there is something beyond this world that calls to us - and that something inside of us longs to answer. As C. S. Lewis said, “The fact that our heart yearns for something that earth cannot supply is proof that heaven must be our home.”

His reasoning goes something like this: we see that this world is uniquely suited to supply our every need - a fact that we so take for granted that it goes unnoticed - like a fish saying, “Water? What is water?”

We need air to breath, and this world just happens to have an abundant and replenishable supply.

We need food and drink, and this world naturally produces it.

We have taste buds that enjoy various flavors, and behold - all such flavors as our buds can handle are available in the world around us.

We need periods of rest and restoration - and behold, there is such a thing as sleep.

We need sexual fulfilment, and lo, God has provided mates to perpetuate our race (that one you might save for when she’s a little older).

Well, in a similar way, all people around the world and across the ages have longed for Eden, for Paradise, for Nirvana, the Happy Hunting Grounds, Mt. Olympus, Valhalla - for heaven! And ancient people in South America did not have to collude with people in Northern Europe in order to hit upon this universal concept. Just as the moral law is common to all mankind, so is this sense of something more beyond the grave.

If all of these physical needs that we were designed to crave have been so well provided for, then upon what basis should we imagine that this most urgent spiritual need should not be?

And since our spiritual being lives beyond our sight, then it seems fitting that the things the spirit longs for are beyond our physical senses as well. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has placed eternity into the hearts of mankind. And when we are awed by the beauty of nature and the mystery of the heavens, as @blbossard has described, then there are times when we feel eternity calling, and something inside us longs to answer.

I hope something in these thoughts will be of help to your family during this trial. May God give all of you grace for this difficult leg of your journey!

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Hi @Travis77, before I answer please let me say you that I am really sorry for your loss and it also breaks my heart. As you say God is good, and He also is wise, so He has good reasons for this difficult situation. He loves you and your entire family, He knows what is the best for His purposes.

I worked for many years with kids and what I learn is that they need small pieces of information that they already experienced to make new concepts. In that way, I think it would be great that she understand that we know heaven exists because Jesus came from there and told “us” how is it (I know that He told that to the apostles and then they write it down, but she needs a shortcut). This is also we believe as adults, we believe because Jesus told us everything we need about the Father (John 3:13, John 8:38, John 12:49).

I love that idea of @blbossard to take her out. Maybe you can go out with her to some new place she doesn’t know but she would love it. And when you two come back to home, your wife can ask her how that place it was. And after she told her how it was, you can show her the analogy: Jesus came from a place we don’t know, but we trust Him because He loves us and we love Him as your mom loves you and you love her.

I hope it helps.
God bless you brother.

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This is a great discussion starter! I can imagine @Travis77’s daughter talking about the grandest mansion she can imagine and maybe even talking to Jesus about it.

Thank you for reminding us of that longing. My dad likes to call it the God-shaped hole.

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Amen - that’s what Blaise Pascal called it too!

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Dear Travis,

I am so sorry for your loss. I pray that comfort of heaven and understanding will surround your family as healing comes. Yes the word of God is the best answer its amazing though children do understand and comprehend more than sometimes we might think they do. There are also material’s out there that help. There is a book called " Heaven Is For Real" that shares an experience of little boy who while under going surgery was taken to heaven for a short period of time. While there he met a younger sister he never knew he had. Some years earlier his parents had a miscarriage and they had never shared that with him. Lots more amazing stories in the book. Another book called “6 Big Big Angles” I believe these books will help you as a family. These books are amazing.

Blessings

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Thank you every one for your kind words and input. It really means a lot to have people take the time to answer my questions with respect and empathy. God Bless you all. My family and I are doing well, God is Good.

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