A question that just came to my mind while I was pondering over thought of being in heaven. I was thinking how beautiful would it be to be in heaven with Jesus by our side. And then suddenly this thought of not seeing my mother or father there recoiled the joy that was in my heart. So I was thinking how could one be happy in heaven if one of our beloved (father, mother, brother, sister, wife, son, daughter and the list may go on) has not made it.
@Ashishraj Truly I understand this feeling. When I used to travel and speak to youth - it absolutely broke my heart to think that even one of the kids I was speaking to may be separated from God forever. It did bother me deeply, but I have finally found peace in trusting in the goodness and love of God - to say with Abraham - “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)
Regarding your question, I liked the summary of the main views given by Friar Lawrence Lew:
"I did a little research online. If you type this question in a Google search: “How can I be happy in Heaven if my family is in Hell?” you will get more than 5.4 million results. I’d say that indicates I’m not the only person concerned about this.
All the essays I read boil down to a few basic theories.
When we’re in Heaven, we will not have any memory of our loved ones, which will allow us to be perfectly happy and joyful. Hmm, I suspect Heaven’s joy will not be dependent on ignorance. That just doesn’t sound like God’s way of doing things.
In Heaven, we will be so keenly aware of God’s sense of Justice, that we will fully agree that our fallen-away loved ones deserve their fate, and we will be completely at peace with it. Whoa, I don’t think the guy who thought up this theory quite understands the love a parent has for a child. It doesn’t add up.
It’s a mystery that will not make sense to us until we’re in Heaven. It’s kind of like when Job demanded answers from God, and God finally spoke: “Who is this who obscures divine plans with words of ignorance?..I will question you, and you tell me the answers!” (Job 38:2-3). Basically, God said to Job: You’re on a need-to-know basis, pal, and right now you do not need to know!"
Here are a few other things to consider. I think this is a topic we do not need to be dogmatic on and that it is one where it is helpful to come to Jesus’ feet in prayer and worship - to remember His love and mercy - and know that in the end He will do what is good and true and beautiful.
Consider the Example of David and Absalom
David’s son Absalom became his enemy and ultimately died leading a rebellion against his father. Now consider this exchange between King David and his commander Joab after the battle directly from Scripture:
2 Samuel 19 - "Joab was told that David was weeping and lamenting over Absalom. The day’s victory turned into a day of mourning as word passed through the army, “David is grieving over his son.” The army straggled back to the city that day demoralized, dragging their tails. And the king held his face in his hands and lamented loudly,
O my son Absalom,
Absalom my dear, dear son!
But in private Joab rebuked the king: “Now you’ve done it—knocked the wind out of your loyal servants who have just saved your life, to say nothing of the lives of your sons and daughters, wives and concubines. What is this—loving those who hate you and hating those who love you? Your actions give a clear message: officers and soldiers mean nothing to you. You know that if Absalom were alive right now, we’d all be dead—would that make you happy? Get hold of yourself; get out there and put some heart into your servants! I swear to God that if you don’t go to them they’ll desert; not a soldier will be left here by nightfall. And that will be the worst thing that has happened yet.”
You see in this story that David, of course, weeps for his son. And yet he ultimately must acknowledge the reality of his son’s choice. His son brought this fate upon himself and the righteous were victorious.
Realize There is Not Just One Christian View of Hell
A few years ago a young man whose Uncle had died without knowing Jesus came to me seeking comfort. He hated the thought of his uncle suffering forever apart from God - and I understood. It helped him a lot to consider that there is more than one view of how God deals with sin ultimately. The following are some of the resources I shared with him.
Hi, @Ashishraj. I’m right there with you. Unless we (somehow) don’t have any recollection of the ‘old order of things’, it’s difficult to see how we wouldn’t miss those we spent our earthly life with.
I do thank you, @SeanO, for your thoughtful answer on the differing views of heaven and hell. It’s helpful to consider all of them, and to consider what we are told about the nature of God’s ultimate judgement…esp. the timing of it (immediately when we die or all on one great ‘Day’?) and the nature of it (Will there be a chance to repent and confess or will it be ‘too late’?). Similarly, will God ever again be as obvious as he was in OT times? (Meaning, will those who are agnostic be given a chance to make a decision in the face of the obvious?)
But back to the issue Ashish raises, I wonder… Does the picture of God wiping tears from our eyes in Rev. 21:4 mean that we will be mourning something (perhaps the loss of loved ones?) when he comes to comfort us, and that when we know that comfort, that will be the last comfort we will ever need?
I’m not convinced we are given enough information to give a definite answer on a definite narrative, but it’s worth considering the questions! If only to better consider the narrative we believe and the implications that believing it has on our lives and ministries.
Thank you Sean and Carson your insight is helpful. I am considering the resources that you have sent me.
Thank you Kathleen. The thought of Jesus wiping our tears in Revelation was what came to my mind as well. Hoping to get some more insight on this.