Is There a Danger of Longing for Heavenly Reunion with Loved Ones More Than Longing to See Jesus?

Question from a reader:

I love your books on Heaven. I lost my young son over 30 years ago and my young adult grandson passed last year. When I think about Heaven, the first thing I think about is seeing my son and then seeing Jesus. While having a conversation with my daughter (the mom of my grandson that passed), she asked if we are wrong that we are more excited to see our child than to see Jesus? Can you explain why we feel this way? Especially me after more than 30 years? I know it’s wrong! We wouldn’t even be seeing our kids again if it weren’t for Jesus and what He did for us!

She definitely opened my eyes to a different perspective, and I feel a little convicted. I still miss my son terribly and look forward to seeing him again. I also look forward to seeing my Lord and Savior! How do I pray about this?

Answer from Stephanie Anderson, EPM staff:

I’m so sorry to hear about your son and your grandson.

It is a challenging balance in our minds, because on one hand, God is the creator of these relationships, and He made us to love and need one another. And yet, on the other hand, we know that Jesus is to be our primary love and the greatest desire of our hearts.

He certainly understands that we miss and grieve our loved ones, and look forward to our reunion with them. And we’re right to do so. Paul tells the Thessalonians that we’ll be reunited with believing family and friends in Heaven:

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. . . . God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. . . . We who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them. . . . And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, 17-18).

Randy writes about these verses, “Our source of comfort isn’t only that we’ll be with the Lord in Heaven, but also that we’ll be with each other.”

But I think your daughter is wise in remembering that Jesus, and our relationship with Him, is the primary joy of Heaven, and all the other wonderful things we will experience in His presence—including reunion with those we love—will be a reflection of how good and wonderful He is. Anticipating that reunion now can draw our hearts to Jesus even more by prompting us to worship and thank Him.

I love what you wrote: “We wouldn’t even be seeing our kids again if it weren’t for Jesus and what He did for us.” So true! And when we’re in Heaven, without sin, it won’t be hard to remember that Jesus is the source of every good thing, including reunion with loved ones. And here and now, we can pray, telling Jesus how much we long for that reunion, and sharing our deepest longings, hopes, and hurts with Him.

Below are some thoughts from Randy’s writings that I think relate to this subject, and also some further links for you to read. May God comfort you and your family as you grieve and look forward to our eternal home.

Asaph says, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25, NIV). This may seem an overstatement: There’s nothing on Earth this man desires but God? Is Asaph saying he doesn’t desire food, water, clothes, shelter, friendship, and laughter? No. He’s saying, in essence, “Of the many things I desire and need, at the core of all of them is God Himself. Therefore, all that I desire and need is summed up in God alone, because He is the source of all provision and the giver of every good gift.”

…It is possible to put people over God, and this is idolatry. But it is also possible, in putting God over people, to then find in people a wonderful expression of God Himself—so great that it is completely appropriate for us to have them in our hearts, to find joy in them, and to long to be with them.

…When we have loved ones in Heaven, how we look forward to seeing them again—after we first see the face of Jesus, who is the One who has made our eternal reunion with them a blood-bought certainty.

…Because in Heaven our hearts will be pure and we’ll see people as they truly are, every relationship will be pure. We’ll all be faithful to the love of our life: King Jesus. We’ll love everyone, but we’ll be in love only with Jesus. We’ll never believe the outrageous lie that our deepest needs can be met in anyone but Jesus.

…J.I. Packer writes, “What shall we do in heaven?…Worship, work, think, and communicate, enjoying activity, beauty, people, and God. First and foremost, however, we shall see and love Jesus, our Savior, Master, and Friend.”

…My heart explodes with happiness as I anticipate the world to come and its endless delights of closeness with Jesus, first and foremost, and the people of God and angels and creatures we have known and will one day know in a vast and beautiful new universe!

Also see:

God’s Presence Is the Essence of Heaven

Does It Dishonor God for Us to Long for Reunion with Loved Ones?

Of All the Activities Heaven Will Offer, What Are You Most Looking Forward to?

Photo by Kat Smith

Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.