I COMPLETELY MISREAD THE QUESTION.
I’m not sure I would have picked it if I hadn’t misread it. And I can’t believe I misread it so utterly completely.
What in the world is happening with the brain when the question on the screen in front of you reads like this:
When we are all in Heaven, will we remember loved ones who are not in Heaven with us?
But you read it like this:
When we are all in Heaven, will we recognize loved ones?
If I have the onset of a disease, gently let me know. Otherwise, I’ll assume I’m working too hard and shouldn’t be doing this stuff on the weekends.
The thing is, I went so far as to actually write the blog article for the question I saw on the page instead of the question that was sitting on the page. Maybe I’ll post that one on Wednesday if I recognize Wednesday when I see it.
But for now, I actually have to think about this tough question that I probably would not have picked. It’s that tough.
The Bible Question of the Week comes from Syndi Bowlan. She gets a free book for sending me a question that made the cut, accidentally though it was. She chose 100 Tough Questions About God and the Bible. The book’s in the mail, Syndi.
I’m sad to say her tough question is not in that book. If it were, I’d use it here. This is Syndi’s full set of questions:
When we are all in Heaven, will we remember loved ones who are not in Heaven with us? What happens when a wife is a Christian and her husband is not? Will she have a husband in Heaven, will she have any memory of him?
That’s at least three questions. Way to go Syndi. You could join the Washington DC press corps.
How about we jump to the second question and clump questions one and three together?
What happens when a wife is a Christian and her husband is not?
Many Christians I know say the wife would go to heaven, the husband would not, and for this grieving wife and others like her, God “will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation 21:4).
Christians sitting on the other end of the theological teeter totter would argue that all dawgs go to heaven—all souls get straightened out.
They point to this verse: “God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:20).
There are a bunch of other theories in between, most of which put the wife in one place (with or without a memory of her husband) and the husband in another place somewhere away from God and his kingdom.
When we are all in Heaven, will we remember loved ones who are not in Heaven with us? Will she [a Christian wife] have a husband in Heaven, will she have any memory of him?
Jesus seemed to answer the last part of that question: “When God raises people to life, they won’t marry. They will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).
Some would say that’s why it’s heaven.
That’s a marriage joke. But trust me, it’s no joke to many married couples.
Now to the toughest question: whether or not we’ll remember a spouse or any other loved ones who didn’t make it into heaven.
The Bible doesn’t answer that question, as far as I can tell.
If we do remember and grieve over them, the Bible does say God is going to wipe away the tears and that heaven will not be a place for grieving.
I don’t know what to make of that.
To my simple way of thinking, that sounds like either a lobotomy or perhaps acceptance based on the reality that wherever our loved ones are they are okay.
If any of you can come up with other theories, have at it.
Syndi, these are all serious and worrisome questions you’re asking.
I know. I grew up in a home with a Christian mother and a non-Christian father. Dad did not become a man of faith until I was a teenager. I know that Mom worried about this. Young as I was, I did too.
The question is probably even more worrisome when the non-Christian spouse has died.
Would this be heretical? What if people wondering about the eternal state of a dead loved one
- decide not to put their faith in someone’s interpretation of what the Bible says about who survives Judgment Day?
- put their faith in the Judge – and maybe even think of him as a Judge who, if on earth, would need to recuse himself because he loves us and he loves the souls we love?
In other words, why think ill of the dead?
Many Christians choose not to presume what God is going to do with our “lost” loved ones, though some of us were raised in churches that taught us to presume.
Some wonder if a better approach might be to just count on God to do the right thing. And then hope we’ll see it as the right thing, by and by.
There’s a reason we’re called People of Faith. When we hit the “I don’t know,” we count on Who we know.
If my interpretation of scripture is correct, only people who have totally rejected God will not be in His presence in Heaven. If this is true, those people would not wish to be there anyway. A darkened soul would not be able to tolerate the light of Heaven and God. My question is, does something such as purgatory really exist, and is there a way for a soul to be redeemed in the afterlife?
Stephen M. Miller
Tom, that’s a question I’ve been hearing more and more these days. I suspect it’s because the traditional view is too hard to swallow, given what Jesus and Paul teach about God. I should add that question to the list I consider trying to tackle for the Monday Q&A feature.
While there are no scriptures pertaining to will we remember those who didn’t believe and we loved them and didn’t make it into heaven. For the scripture of no more sorrow in Heaven. I think and it’s only a opinion not concerned however I think that missing and grieving someone who didn’t make would be most sorrowful. I think that they would most likely be forgotten as if they didn’t exsist. That all things would be reconciled by God. Open to any other ideals or opinions. When we are transformed I think it may have to do with not remembering what was because of everything being made new.
Thanks for taking that on Steve….even if you orignially misread my questions ;). It seems lately every question I ask someone I get the same answer – Trust God. I do believe He is trying to tell me something!!
Thanks for the book. I started reading it last night!
Stephen M. Miller
The most important questions have some pretty solid answers, though. Jesus lived. He died. He rose again. He said we would, too. Given that, I’m okay with a lot of “I don’t know” for the other stuff.
My friend and I were having a discussion today about when spouses remarry after another dies. When they get to heaven, how does that work? My friend says that they go back to their long time spouses before they remarried. But it’s not always a long time spouse. But maybe all of this isn’t an issue if we go by the verse in Matthew you quoted above. All of this thinking is hurting my head!