God’s grace and forgiveness have been my foundation, and without my faith I would be lost. I have many questions and so much growing to do when it comes to my relationship with my Heavenly Father, but the one that weighs most heavily on me on an almost daily basis is this:
How can Heaven truly be Heaven for me if those I love dearly, especially my husband and my adult children, are not there with me?
I struggle immensely with this and feel like there is something I should be able to do to give them faith so that they will know the incredible gift of God’s presence in this life and the next.
Thank you for your heartfelt question. I will do my best to think this through with you biblically. I share a similar situation and feel deep empathy for your concerns.
If I understand you correctly, your children and husband are still living, and you feel a burden for their salvation which they do not feel. They have chosen lives apart from a relationship with Jesus which the Bible clearly tells us is the best life possible—one shared with Him both now and in the place He has prepared for us in eternity.
Where there’s breath, there’s hope! We finite creatures have very limited knowledge even of ourselves, let alone what goes on in others’ minds and hearts. It’s easy to think that our circumstances, as they are right now, are how they will be next week or next year and that leaves us feeling a bit hopeless. Please keep reminding yourself, God loves you and yours even more than you are capable of and is no doubt working in their hearts and lives. And if you are praying diligently for them, you truly are doing everything you can for them.
Their choices, as you mentioned, are neither your responsibility nor under your control. When you worry about those choices and where they will lead, you are actually doing two things that are not helpful: demonstrating to God and those around you a lack of trust in His plan and power. And you are focusing on those around you instead of on the One who can work on your family’s behalf. (I hope this doesn’t sound too blunt, but that kind of focus can, surprisingly, become a form of idol worship—placing your children’s and husband’s future in a position of power and importance that only belongs to God.)
“What if” questions can literally drive us crazy and are a favorite tactic of our enemy to keep us from experiencing the “peace that passes understanding” that God promises when we go to Him with thanksgiving with our requests, and trust Him to take care of us.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your soul” (Matthew 11:28-29). When you are tempted to let worry over things you cannot control steal your joy and your peace, remember who wins… (hint, it’s not you). Then breathe a prayer of “sorry, Lord” and switch the eyes of your soul back on Him.
In this link Randy talks about how Heaven can still seem like Heaven even if loved ones aren’t there. His insight into our limited knowledge about what happens in people’s minds and hearts just prior to death may be helpful.
God bless you for your tender heart and for caring for others God has placed in your life.
Photo by Tara Winstead
Doreen is part of the Eternal Perspective Ministries staff, and helps Randy with editing and answering reader questions. She is a certified biblical counselor.