I think, for several reasons lately – paramount among them are Covid-related issues – people are stressed, worried and afraid. It has even been stated that suicide, including among children, has increased. We have a new normal now, like it or not.
Actually, for some, there are a few positive things and blessings to note in our new normal. For instance, some can now work from home, avoid the commute traffic, lessen distractions, stay inside out of bad weather, and dress more casually and comfortably at home than in an office. But there are many disadvantages of working from home, too, especially for those with children at home. Trying to get your work done with children in the room or house can be a challenge, although it is nice to be able to spend more time with them. Children being ‘internet-schooled’ at home also causes many stresses for the little ones.
One biggie for both adults and children is the lack of social interaction. Humans were not created to be isolated from each other. So, both children and adults miss their friends and co-workers and just being free to be outside wherever we want, whenever we want. I also believe the mask-wearing and constant updates on TV and the internet about how many people have died from the virus every day is causing stress, especially among children. When they hear adults on TV and everywhere else talking about how dangerous it is, how many have been in the hospital, and how many have died, they get worried. And in a lot of cases, they never mention to an adult that they are worried.
Those who work in an industry that does not allow for working from home have stress too. Worry over catching the virus from a customer or co-worker, worry over hours being cut back due to business falling off. Business owners worried about the possibility of losing income, laying off employees, or even shutting down entirely. It is very stressful for people who put all their savings, etc., into opening a business, running it for years, and then are suddenly faced with losing it all and having all that work, money, and effort to strive and succeed seem like all for naught.
There are stresses for specific situations, like pastors, for instance. I’m sure they are in fear of diminished or lost finances since people cannot come to church in some cases and may have stopped paying tithes or contributions.
There are so many things to cause stress and fear that I could not possibly name them all. But it occurred to me recently that some Christian people are even afraid of heaven. I’ve heard it said that everybody wants to go to heaven, but they just don’t want to die to get there. Think about it. This is true for most people, including most believers. So, I was thinking that it might be a good idea to stop and think about the possible reasons why we might be afraid of or a little apprehensive about going to heaven. I’m speaking mainly to Christian people in this article. We are told to comfort and encourage each other in these last days (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), but how can we comfort another when we are not comfortable ourselves?
Following are some reasons why I think we might fear heaven.
We humans all tend to fear what we don’t know. The unknown seems scary and riskier than what we know, even if we are not comfortable in a current situation. I think this is why some abused children fear telling someone because they are afraid of the “unknown” situation, which could turn out to be worse.
I think this is also proven by our excitement in looking forward to going to some unknown place like Disneyland. Even though it is also an unknown, if we have never been there before, we are not afraid because we have heard so many good things about it that we get excited to go there ourselves. Granted, this is a bit different from going to heaven in that we eventually come back from Disneyland, but we don’t want to leave and stop having fun, even though we know we have to.
This reminds me of stories I have heard or read about from those who have had a near-death experience and a glimpse of heaven. To a person, not one wanted to come back. They all wanted to stay there, and the short glimpses they had were so wonderful that they were willing to leave everything and everyone here on earth behind if they could only stay.
Although not via a near-death experience, Paul was there and said afterward in Philippians 1:21, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
That is true of all the ones I have knowledge of, even though most of them had a very good life here on earth. Good job, great family, great environment, etc.
To quote Mr. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, regarding communication: “The more you tell them, the more they will know. The more they know, the more they will understand. And the more they understand, the more they will care.”
That’s one of my favorite quotes, and I think it applies here. If we share with each other what we know about heaven and what we look forward to in heaven, maybe it would go a long way in comforting those who might be babes in Christ or who just haven’t heard much from the pulpit or other believers about what heaven will be like, or heard many people say they are excited to go there. I think having no information about something tends to make us not care much about it. And maybe fear it.
We have a natural fear of death, even when everything is ‘right’ in our lives. But as we grow in faith, that fear tends to diminish until it eventually starts going in the other direction, towards looking forward to getting to heaven, whether by death or the Rapture. All believers will be included in the Rapture, whether by resurrection (Christians in the church age who have already died physically) or by being snatched up alive in new glorified bodies. Again, reference 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
I recommend setting aside a few minutes each day to think about heaven and some things to look forward to there.
I look forward to seeing Jesus face to face and having Him wrap His arms around me and welcome me there. I look forward to no more tears, no more sickness, no more sin nature, and I certainly look forward to seeing my new glorified body – a body like Jesus’ that can walk through walls and transport instantly. I look forward to seeing some friends and relatives that have gone there already. And I look forward to seeing some people that I have never met on this earth but love nonetheless. I look forward to seeing what my mansion looks like. Imagine having the King of the universe building a dwelling place just for me! And I look forward to finding out what colors and smells and sights are there; I even look forward to finding out what my job will be there.
CLINGING TO THE THINGS OF THIS WORLD:
I’ve heard it said before that some Christians are so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good. I don’t think that is possible; nevertheless, I’ll move on and say that, in my opinion, it could be the other way around. Maybe we are so earthly-minded that we are no heavenly good.
In 1 John 2:15-17, the Bible tells us not to be “of this world.” It says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
We tend to get so involved in the things of this life that we lose focus on the REAL life to come. We get caught up in career goals, financial goals, and just the day-to-day things we enjoy in this life. Of course, I’m speaking of those of us who are blessed to live in what is, so far, still a mostly ‘free’ country. That is, as compared to most other countries on this earth. Some in other countries are in fear daily – of imprisonment, torture, starvation or other persecutions. And, I imagine, for those believers, death would be welcomed and that they look forward to life in heaven more than most of us do. Or they likely have less fear, at least.
Regret over time we’ve squandered, not spreading the gospel or using the talents and gifts we’ve been given; therefore, we’re worried about standing before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ, in shame. (I’ll be the first to say “ouch” to that one.) Matthew 25:14-30 speaks of the parable of the talents and gives a picture of the behavior of the characters in the parable while they wait for the master to return. The laborers in the parable were given various amounts, but all received quite a lot of money, interestingly called “talents,” each according to his own ability. But their master didn’t outline to them what to do with it. Instead, he trusted them to use it for their master’s gain.
What do we do with our talents? Do we “hide” them to be safe from possible ridicule, out of laziness, or reluctance to give up some worldly pleasure instead of using our talents for the Master’s gain (glory)? Do we ever think about or gear our behavior toward our rewards in heaven? Or do we ignore or hide our talents on earth, only to be ashamed when we face Him?
NOT SURE OF SALVATION:
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by GRACE [bold is mine] you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the GIFT of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you are not sure of your salvation, please re-read the above scriptures and make sure. Now. Then, focus on heaven and taking as many as possible with you. If the enemy (Satan) can keep you distracted by getting you to focus only on yourself instead of witnessing and using the talents He gave you, then he gets a victory over you, AND he gets a victory over his enemy, Christ.
In conclusion, we are indeed living in some scary times. These are the last of the last days and are not meant for sissies. We have been chosen for this generation for a reason. For someone, our witness and comforting words about scary things like dying might be their last chance before the Rapture to become a believer in Christ. So, let’s practice what the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5:
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”
More scripture references:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep [deceased]. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
The Parable of the Talents:
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.
After a long time, the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed [my thought: making excuses?]. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So, take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.'”