Not long ago a reader shared a profound comment in reply to a post on my Facebook page. This is one of the most powerful stories we’ve received from readers of the Heaven book:
We—very suddenly and unexpectedly—lost our 16-year-old son on 10/6. He was the fourth of our five children. I have struggled mightily with the “whys”, and life very much feels akin to a marathon swim in an ocean of pain. I do believe that God knows what is best. It just hurts mightily.
Though night is inherently so, the first night without him seemed the darkest of my life. It literally felt as though my own heart might cease to beat. As I lay there begging God for a sliver of comfort, I remembered a tiny booklet on Heaven that a co-worker had given me years before. At the time, I was a little confused because it seemed an odd Christmas gift for someone who had not lost anyone. I read it, and I was delighted at the description of eternity that was unlike anything I had heard in my 40ish years of churchgoing. I put it on my shelf after reading it. That first night without our son, I grabbed it as though it were a life preserver and I were going under. Truthfully, I was. The promises and hope in that tiny book helped me breathe until the morning when my other family members rose.
Within a week of saying our earthly goodbye to our child, I looked you up online and ordered the full copy of Heaven. It has saved my life. I ordered the 50 Days version for our other four children, another copy of the big book for my parents, and 100 of the mini-books. In telling much of our testimony, people have asked for the mini books. I gave and mailed out several at Christmas.
I also teach at my son’s school, a Christian school, and I teach his class. I could NEVER have returned to work to face his empty desk—and listen to the life he left behind being lived without him—without your book. I put together a Christmas gift for each of his 40 classmates. Most of them had been his friend since pre-school, and they are hurting, too. In the gifts, I included a mini-book for each of them, and they found tremendous comfort as well in reading about the real eternity that God has planned for His children. No clouds and harps!! A life joyful, abundant, and FAMILIAR! I can’t tell you how many people already have been reached through your books and the hope they share.
I still have questions about being separated from my child, but I can say with full certainty that some lives have been changed already. I vow to never again take my sights off of eternity, and I vow to, however painful, walk this road as faithfully as possible so that more lives will join us in that incredible place. Psalm 119:89- “Forever, Oh, God, thy word is settled in Heaven.” My tears may rain down here until I am reunited with my child, but I do trust that my anguish already is being settled. God bless you and your ministry, Mr. Alcorn.
Here are some responses to her comment from other readers. Each is a story in and of itself:
We lost our youngest son eight years ago and are continually reading Randy’s books. Heaven was the first one we read, too. …We needed Heaven to feel more real and solid (less ethereal) after our very real, solid boy moved there.
After my dad died, I read the version for children (Heaven for Kids) every evening to my boys. Such a sweet time together to journey through the grief and help them better deal with their mama’s frequent tears.
When our son left us at such a young age of 13, I wanted to read all that I could get my hands on about the biblical Heaven! Randy Alcorn’s book was like reading a college textbook on Heaven! So many amazing details gleaned from God’s Word! What a hope we have in Christ Jesus! Without this eternal hope that our Lord gives, I would have been a heap of dust scattered in the wind! My heart yearns for that day for my faith to be made sight!
…I too lost a son suddenly in 2017. I too had to dig into biblical truths to combat the darkness that wanted to take over. Heaven was a book that helped me keep the eternal perspective and knowing where my son was.
I write this in 50 Days of Heaven:
By meditating on Heaven and learning to look forward to it, we don’t eliminate our pain, but we can alleviate it and put it in perspective. We’re reminded that suffering and death are only temporary conditions.
Jesus came to deliver us from the fear of death, “so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
In light of the coming resurrection of the dead, the apostle Paul asks, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
We should not romanticize death. But those who know Jesus should realize that death is a gateway to never-ending joy.
Grasping what the Bible teaches about Heaven will shift our center of gravity and radically alter our perspective on life. It will give us hope, a word that the apostle Paul uses six times in Romans 8:20-25, where he explains that all creation longs for our resurrection and the world’s coming redemption.
Don’t place your hope in favorable life circumstances—they cannot and will not last. Instead, place your hope in Jesus Christ and his promises. One day He will return, and those who have placed their faith in Him will be resurrected to life on the New Earth. They will behold God’s face and joyfully serve Him forever.
Photo by Meiying Ng on Unsplash
Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.