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Why You Need to Think about Heaven (More than You Do)

  • Dave Furman Pastor and Author
  • 2018 25 Jan
Why You Need to Think about Heaven (More than You Do)

My wife is a big fan of author J. R. R. Tolkien. She read many of his books as a child, and when the Lord of the Rings movies were released, she made me watch them with her multiple times. Soon I knew everything that would happen. I knew how the movies would end and how evil would be defeated.

Something similar has happened with Satan and his minions. The story has been written and the conclusion settled, however, it will be a rough ride to the end. Jesus has won and Satan has lost; but as someone once said, “The dragon has been slain, but his tail still swishes.”[1] Even though Satan is as good as dead, he still wreaks havoc in the world. This is why we can’t forget that the end will come. Jesus has conquered and will have ultimate victory.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35, 38–39)

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (Rom. 16:20)

And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of re and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Rev. 20:10)

To walk with God means to hope in the promises of God. We trust God that heaven is on the way. When you have heaven in view, you don’t need a more comfortable and easier “now” to bring you joy. What you need instead is forever to reshape your here and now.[2] Living in light of eternity doesn’t remove our pain, but it allows us to have hope in moments of pain.[3]

One of my theology professors, John Hannah, told us to look at all of life as a pointer toward heaven. He encouraged us to look at difficulty and distress in this world as but a taste of the hell that as believers we will never face. And we can consider every delight in life as but a small picture or taste of what our eternity in heaven will be like. Hannah challenged us to remember that in our tough circumstances at work or school, our health issues, or our family problems, our struggles are but a shadow of the eternal damnation that we are free from because of Christ’s death on the cross for us. And in every victory and sweet moment in life—graduations, weddings, or quality time together as a family—we realize that they are small pictures of the marvelous eternity we will spend with God because of Christ’s death on the cross.

God chose us before the creation of the world, and Christ redeemed us as his brothers and sisters, and he will one day raise us to heaven in glory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55). Friend, what could be better news than this? This land is not our home. As Christians, we are all expatriates, passing through this earth, holding a passport and citizenship to another place. Be encouraged to take the long view in your suffering. This life is a blip on the radar of eternity. It’s a small knot in an infinitely long rope. That’s why we can say along with the apostle Paul, “We do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). Paul’s afflictions were quite serious. In many ways they were not slight or momentary. Paul writes later in 2 Corinthians 11 that he has faced imprisonments and countless beatings, often taking him to the point of death. Five times he received the forty lashes minus one from the hands of the Jews. Three times he was beaten with rods, and once he was even stoned. Three times he was shipwrecked, and he spent a day and a night lost at sea.

He faced danger from rivers and robbers and the wilderness and even from his own people. Danger seemed to follow Paul everywhere he went. Sleepless nights and hunger and thirst were constant. And he was burdened for all the churches he planted and for all the pastors he trained and commissioned (2 Cor. 12:23–29). These afflictions lasted his whole life, but he knew they were nothing in comparison with eternity that was coming. A weighty and wonderful eternal glory that was anything but slight and momentary was being prepared for him.[4] He had hope.

How was Paul able to have hope in the midst of these trials? He looked “not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen” (2 Cor. 4:18). He knew this life wouldn’t last forever. He knew his pain was not the end of the story. Friend, if you are struggling with adversity, sickness, anxiety, fear, or loss of any kind, this too will one day be in the past. What seems so defining and certain now will be done away with. You may feel like your pain is never-ending, but heaven is coming. A time is coming when pain will cease and we will be with our Savior for eternity. This is the real eternal “ever after” that is drawing ever nearer. You may have started reading this ten minutes ago, and are disappointed that the Lord has not returned in the meantime. But we can be assured by this reality: “Salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11).

Content taken from Kiss the Wave: Embracing God in Your Trials by David Furman, ©2018. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.

[1] Steve Brown, What Was I Thinking?: Things I’ve Learned Since I Knew It

All (New York: Howard, 2006), 90.

[2] Paul David Tripp, Forever: Why You Can’t Live without It (Grand Rapids,

MI: Zondervan, 2011), 36.

[3] Ibid., 73.

[4] C. G. Kruse, 2 Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 8

(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 110. 

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