My wife and I both live hundreds of miles from our nearest relatives. That means when we visit our respective families, everybody gets excited. When we arrive, everybody smiles. Everybody laughs. We chatter and talk and catch up. Visiting our families means happy hugs when we arrive. It also, however, means tearful goodbyes when we leave.
The last day of vacation is always the hardest. As we give our goodbye hugs, we can’t help but think how long it will be until we see each other again. Tears flow. Hearts ache.
It’s hard to say “goodbye” to those we love. If you have ever had to stand next to your father’s deathbed in a crowded hospital room – if you have ever had to hold a friend’s hand as she breathed her last – you know how hard goodbyes are. Tears flow. Hearts ache.
Our loving God has good news for our hurting hearts. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in the Greek city of Thessalonica, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep,” that is, those who die, “or to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and se we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thessalonians 4:13,14).
You’ll notice Paul doesn’t say we shouldn’t grieve. Saying “goodbye” hurts. Our hearts will ache. Tears will flow. But we don’t grieve like the rest of men who have no hope.
We know that because Jesus suffered the punishment of all the bad things we do on the cross – because he defeated death with his resounding resurrection – we have hope. We have the sure and certain hope that all who believe in Jesus will live with him forever in heaven. We have the sure and certain hope that we will live forever in heaven.
That means we will see our loved ones again. Though right now we are separated by a great distance, we will be reunited one day. On that day we will share happy hugs and warm embraces. Tears of sorrow will turn to tears of joy. Heaven is a giant family reunion.
In his Word, our God reveals to us many of the wonderful aspects of the happiness of heaven. He tells us we will see him face to face. He tells us we will be perfect. He tells us we will be free of all pains and problems.
As we say “goodbye” to our family and friends here on earth – as we tearfully stand next to the casket or in front of the tombstone – may we never forget one other comforting characteristics of heaven: In heaven there will be no more tearful goodbyes.