“Heaven, fellowship with the Trinity is…the end for which all human beings were created” so says Jerry Walls in The Logic of Eternal Joy.
Today I attended the funeral of a couple who lost their beloved daughter to a premature birth. I have rarely witnessed such Godly grief, such dignity in mourning. In fact, I never have. They were quite remarkable. Why? Because they know who they are in Christ.
All pettiness of daily living was exposed for the sham it is. Reinhold Niebuhr expressed it well when he wrote that we were not to be preoccupied with “the furniture of heaven or the temperature of hell.” Such is much of our lives. We are so preoccupied, that when tragedy strikes, we’re surprised! It is a perverse irony that doesn’t see the pathetic blasphemy of such a state!
Jonathon Edwards is a theological genius, but also an idiot. “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” has reached such disproportionately epic status in popular evangelical thought, as to change the nature and character of God! I don’t know what he was thinking when he wrote what he did, but as surely as I would slap him across the face for such theological wizardry, I would ask him why. Nevertheless, he said many a great thing, namely, heaven “is a world of love.”
He got that right.
My friend’s baby is in that world of love! That is the world for which she was created. My friends must endure the grief and trauma and loss of their little girl in this world of the now-and-not-yet. And they will, for they have learnt what it means to sit at the feet of Christ; to stand in the armour of God; to walk in the ways of Jesus; and to run with the horses. In short, they have learned what it means to die……to live.
This does not mean that the destiny of their daughter depends on them. Heaven forbid. It depends on God, always has, always will. He is and will be true to himself; faithful and just; eternal love and compassion; redemptive because He is the Redeemer.
And in their grief, they will see the Lord. In their mourning they will be comforted. In their suffering, they will in these days declare with Job: “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God” 19:25-26.
John Polkinghorne writes, “The old creation is a world that contains sacraments…The new creation will be wholly sacramental”, and that is entirely down to the nature and character of God – for the everlasting and eternal life of God is inexhaustibly rich. We’ve heard it said a million times in our churches and at grave sides, but this is the truth of those three unforgettable words of Psalm 23:5c “my cup overflows.”
A picture was shared that their baby was dancing in Heaven, with God Himself. Of course she’s dancing! The Trinity is a perichoretic dance of mutual indwelling love! That is the destiny of humanity in Christ Jesus. That is the destination of the beloved little baby I saw being lowered into the jaws of an arrogant grave. A grave from which she will rise, even though today she dances.
Dance little girl. I never met you but I love you x