Is It Normal to Be Afraid to Go to Heaven?
Question from a reader:
Is it normal to be afraid to go to Heaven? I've been wrestling with this the last couple of years. I'm 16 now but I would like to deal with the issue before I pass away.
Answer from Karen Coleman, EPM Ministry Assistant:
It’s very understandable and normal to have some fears, since we usually fear the unknown.
Have you tried to figure out why you are afraid to go to Heaven? I can think of three possible reasons:
- If it’s because you are uncertain you will be in Heaven, you can settle that question once and for all. If you know Christ as your Savior, you don’t have to wonder about this ever again. John 1:12-13 states: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” If you’re not sure you’ve ever done that, you can do it today! Here’s a link to an article by Randy Alcorn that explains how.
- If it’s because you are concerned about how you will die, whether it might be painful, etc. that is something we simply need to trust God with. He is sovereign and knows everything and loves us SO much. Everything in our lives is ‘Father-filtered”—He knows how much we can handle and will be there to walk with us through any suffering He allows into our lives. He has promised to never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
- If it’s because you are uncertain of what Heaven will be like, the Bible has a lot to say about that, and it’s all good news!! Heaven will be far from boring. Instead it will be happy and amazing and full of delight and friends and laughter and feasting and joy! Read Revelation 21 and 22 for the coolest picture of the joy we will experience there! Here are some of my favorite parts:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” (Revelation 21:3-5) “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. “(Revelation 22:3-5)
Our EPM website is full of articles about Heaven and joys that lie ahead for us. Here are links to some of them:
- Once in Heaven, will people know and recognize those they knew on earth?
- Will there be books and reading on the New Earth?
- Travel in Heaven
- Sports in Heaven
I am SO excited about Heaven—seeing Jesus face to face, reconnecting with my family who have gone on to Heaven before me, meeting intriguing people I’ve read about, like Queen Esther and Deborah, and missionaries like Amy Carmichael and Helen Roseveare and Elisabeth Elliot…oh, I could go on and on. We’ll have eternity to praise Jesus, enjoy and explore the New Earth, maybe meet your new closest friend ever!
The Bible tells us to fear and reverence God, and associates that with gaining wisdom, like in Proverbs 2:1-5: “My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”
But other fears may mean I have an inadequate or distorted picture of God’s love and care for me. I John 4: 18 tells us, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” So if you are scared to die (kind of like #2 above) it will require turning your fear over to God and asking Him to help you trust Him more and more.
I hope you have an older Christian friend or family member you can talk this over with, or maybe your youth pastor or a female youth leader. Ask them to pray with you for God to give you peace to guard your heart and mind (Philippians 4:7).
It’s so encouraging that you want to face your fear and deal with it so it doesn’t ever become debilitating. Lord willing, you have many more years to serve the Lord and represent Him to those around you. Your confidence to face the future can help others as well. Here’s a selection from Randy Alcorn’s book, Seeing the Unseen where he talks about having a “contagious excitement for Heaven.”
When I anticipate what my first glimpse of Heaven will be like, I remember the first time I went snorkeling. Etched in my memory is a certain sound—one that startled me several times, causing me to look all around me. Then I realized what it was—the sound of my own gasp going through the snorkel as I marveled at the sights. I imagine our first glimpse of Heaven will cause us to similarly gasp in amazement and delight. That first gasp will likely be followed by many more as we encounter new sights in that endlessly wonderful place.
Like a bride’s dreams of sharing a home with her groom, our love for Heaven should be overflowing and contagious. The more I learn about God, the more excited I get about Heaven. The more I learn about Heaven, the more excited I get about God. Jesus said, “I am going there to prepare a place for you...I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2–3, NIV).
Hope is the light at the end of life’s tunnel. It not only makes the tunnel endurable, it fills the heart with anticipation of the world into which we will one day emerge. Not just a better world, but a new and perfect world. A world alive, fresh, beautiful, devoid of pain, suffering, and war, a world without earthquakes, without tsunamis, without tragedy. A world ruled by the only One worthy of ruling.
Randy also quotes Adoniram Judson, who served as a missionary in Burma in the early 1800s for almost 40 years. On his deathbed he said, “When Christ calls me Home I shall go with the gladness of a boy bounding away from school.” What a picture of happiness!
I hope I’ve given you some things to think about and hopefully something helpful. I’m praying for you to trust God and His love for you and have a new perspective on Heaven!
Karen Coleman is a ministry assistant at Eternal Perspective Ministries. She spent 23 years in Cameroon, West Africa involved in Bible translation and missionary care. Before going to Africa and before EPM began, she served as Randy’s assistant when he was a pastor.