It’s a hard question because only one person has ever survived death – and that is Jesus. And really the Bible says very little about it. But we do get glimpses.
On one occasion when Jesus tells the parable of the rich man dying and going to Hades and Lazarus dying and going to heaven, it seems pretty clear that Lazarus knows and recognizes Abraham. We do get the sense at least from that passage, that we will know others and that they will know us.
In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul says we will have perfect spiritual bodies, and we will bear the image of Jesus. When I think about that, being in the presence of the unconditional love of Christ – and somehow each one of us bearing that image, I have to imagine that the past wrongs and hurts each of us have suffered – and inflicted – will long be forgotten; that that separation and loneliness that all of have felt in this lifetime will be healed… and that longing in each us for connection and love will ultimately be fulfilled – overcome by the mercy, forgiveness and grace we know in Jesus.
In an Easter sermon, my friend Herb Meza once reflected on life after death. He wrote this:
“I believe that one day every bruise, every cancer cell, every blind eye, every limp and every lump will be set right. One day every embarrassment and every rejection and every hurt we have suffered will give way to glory. I do not know how God will deal with all the shabbiness, failures and betrayal. It surely must hurt God, but I know God is loving and forgiving. And I believe that one day, every moment of hoping against hope will be rewarded.”
Let us pray: Gracious God, none of us knows for sure what heaven will be like, but we do know it has been promised. We do trust that you are as good as Jesus promised you are: loving, forgiving, full of mercy and grace. Help us to live in light of this promise as your loving, forgiving, merciful people. We ask in Jesus name. Amen.