“To depart and be with Christ … is better by far.” Philippians 1:23
When I entered the room, Dad was sitting in his recliner, studying his Bible. On many evenings after dinner, he and I discussed whatever Bible questions were on my adolescent mind. Sometimes the conversation drifted toward heaven. Dad read me passages in Revelation about God’s dazzling throne, hosts of angels, a river of life, and a tree that yielded fruit every month (see Revelation 4:1–3; 22:1–5).
On occasion I’d ask questions that had no clear biblical answer: Will pets go to heaven? What will we eat? What will we do all day? Dad gave the same answer to all those kinds of questions: “Whatever you need to be happy in heaven, God will provide.” His answer satisfied me. God loved me. God would make sure I was happy in heaven.
As an adult, I cling to Dad’s answer even though many of my questions about heaven have changed. The fact that God is committed to my heavenly happiness spills into my earthly life. Whatever happens here—good or bad—God will make it right in heaven. When life becomes inexplicable or heartbreaking, I recite Revelation 22:4—“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.”
In such difficult life seasons, I also meditate on Paul’s words to the Philippians: to be with Jesus is “better by far.” What did Paul mean?
French philosopher and theologian Blaise Pascal asserted that there is an “infinite abyss” in every human soul that only God can fill. If so, then our deepest longing and deepest need are the same: God. In heaven, we will be present with God eternally: “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them” (Revelation 21:3).
That’s the better-by-far guarantee of our eternal happiness. The God-shaped hole in our soul will be filled. Yes, he will eliminate pain, grief, and discontent, but those are by-products of living in his presence, suffused in his glory, permeated with his love, peace, grace, and joy.
My father was right. In heaven God will provide everything necessary for my happiness, for he will provide himself. And face-to-face fellowship with him is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).
In what ways does the guarantee of eternal joy spill into your life on earth?
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is part of our series on Heaven.