I have friends in heaven. I am very sure they’re in a far better place, but I miss them.
I am more sure that if God allowed me 30 seconds with them, it would change how I feel about their absence. I would come back to earth filled with gratitude for their comfort and joy. But I would still miss them.
What is it like in heaven?
Heaven is a place of great joy. I don’t mean superficial happiness, but joy — profoundly deep joy!
Three sources of joy in heaven
1. God’s creative work
When we observe so much beauty and glory in this world; the beauty of seasons, mountains, forests, skies, oceans, lakes and the vast number of creatures, it’s breathtakingly awesome to consider the variety, beauty, and order. Since this creation is a reflection of God’s glory (Psalms 19:1-6), one should expect the new heavens and new earth to be greater in every way (see: II Peter 3:13) .
Jesus is the one through whom all things were made that have been made (John 1:1-3) and He left earth to prepare a place for us (John 14:1-3). Imagine the greatness of this place — a place not marred by sin and fallenness in any way! We will enter the Father’s house and marvel at the beauty of what our Creator has prepared for those who love Him! In heaven, we will enjoy the inexhaustible handiwork of God –forever. There will be a lot to investigate and explore in heaven as we celebrate the glory of the Creator. We will continually be in awe of God’s amazing work!
2. The company of fellow-believers
More importantly, however, we will be surrounded by fellow believers in heaven (the redeemed of all the ages). There will be perfect love among the sons and daughters of God as they dwell in their Father’s house (John 14:2-3; Hebrews 12:23). We will live in new bodies that never suffer from sickness (Philippians 3:20-21; Revelation 21;4). We will have new natures that pleases God in everything (Psalm 17:15; I John 3:2). Together, we will serve Jesus Christ with total faithfulness (Revelation 22:3) and reign with him (Revelation 3:21; 22:5; I Corinthians 6:3). Relationships on earth (even Christian relationships) suffer from the effects of sin. In heaven, we will have perfect relationships with everyone!
These relationships will be superior to all other kinds of human relations. Jesus taught that there will not be marriage in heaven. “Jesus replies, ‘The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:34-36).
The apostle Paul also taught that marriage as a union ceases in death (Romans 7:1-3; I Corinthians 7:39). This does not mean that gender distinction will be removed in heaven. Nor should we conclude that we will have no memory of earthly relationships. The biological purpose of marriage will not be needed in heaven, but, “. . . this does not mean ‘marriage’ in a broader sense is excluded. Although marriage as an institution is impossible in heaven, marriage as a metaphor and state of mind is not. After all, the marriage between Christ and his church is a major topic in Revelation” (John Gilmore, Probing Heaven, p. 233).
C.S. Lewis wrote, “In denying the sexual life [in heaven] . . . it is not of course necessary to suppose that the distinction of sexes will disappear. What is no longer needed for biological purposes may be expected to survive for splendour” (Miracles, p. 166). We are wise to admit a degree of ignorance on this matter but we can be confident that we will experience relationships in heaven far superior to anything we have known on earth (consider I Corinthians 13, especially verses 10-12).
3. The presence of the Triune God
More than any other enjoyment in heaven, there is the presence of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Just think of the joy, peace, and comfort in God’s presence. “The throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it” (Revelation 22:3). The words, “And so we will be with the Lord forever” (I Thessalonians 4:17), describe the great expectation of each believer’s heart. Jesus said, “I will come back and take you to be with me . . .’ (John 14:3 emphasis mine). Think of Jesus’ prayer to the Father: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world” (John 17:24). In heaven we will celebrate every aspect of God’s greatness and glory (see: Revelation 4:8-11; 5:8-14; 7:9-17).
We will worship God –unhindered by the sins and the distractions of this life. Our worship will not be self-motivated nor measured by self focused emotional satisfaction. But this worship will not be dull and boring. It will be vibrant and captivating. It will focused on God and His glory.
Heaven is a place where we will enjoy the presence of God – beyond current imagination. The Psalmist said to God, “You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Psalm 16:11).
See also: A tension in the heart of Jesus Christ