Thankful for the Assurance of Heaven

In honor of Thanksgiving, I considered writing a post about all the things for which I’m thankful. Then I considered writing a post about all the things for which others should be thankful.

But I decided to get ultra-personal.

Those who know me personally know my husband graduated to heaven this past summer. What you may not know is that his last 2 years of life were spent radically different from the decades that preceded them…both physically and spiritually.

This is a bittersweet holiday for me. My first without Russ. Yet I’m incredibly thankful to know he is now with his Savior.

How can I have such assurance? The Bible tells us of heaven. Still, it’s one thing to read about heaven, but it’s another to know it’s true in the face of a terminal illness.

Here’s a link to the testimony Russ shared last May – a testimony shared with the knowledge that his death was a month or two away.

Listen for yourself and then you decide whether my assurance is justified.

Russell Pennington Testimony

 

After you hear it, you’ll know what I know…heaven is real and as the Bible promises, we can, indeed, have the assurance of that destination if we know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

And there’s nothing better to be thankful for than that.


Our Days Are Numbered

dying and death

Our days are numbered. That sounds so ominous, doesn’t it? Or maybe it sounds like cheesy dialogue in a B movie: “Your days are numbered, pal.”

But think about it. This earthly body doesn’t last forever. And it would seem way too senseless if the measure of our life is merely a function of some random toss of the dice.

That’s why I derive so much comfort from Bible verses that remind me of God’s sovereign control, especially in life and death.

dying and deathFor example, Psalm 139:16 tells us God knows the end of our life before it begins:

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (NIV).

And Psalm 116:15 reminds us that in the end, regardless of what others think or know,

“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His faithful servants” (NIV).

Death can be scary, especially if you’re not certain of what happens next. Theories abound. Do we simply cease to exist? Is there really a heaven? If there is, what’s it like? And what about hell?

These are not merely academic questions for me. With my husband’s recent passing, I need to be sure of the answers…and I found that certainty in the following verses:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV).

“Jesus said to her, “’I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live’” (John 11:25 ESV).

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-3 ESV).

Yet, for some—even Christians—death is not as frightening as the process of dying. Many of us have either heard or said: “I hope I die in my sleep. I don’t want to suffer. Let me just slip away from this life to the next.”

That isn’t always the way it happens, is it? We live in a broken, sin-sick world, and the consequences of this condition include pain and suffering, even for the strongest believers.

As Jim Denison, founder of the Denison Forum, has said,

“Even the most passionate worship does not exempt us from suffering and death. Whether we are deeply in love with Jesus or we have vehemently rejected his word, we can still fall victim to random violence, natural disasters, and terrible diseases.”

So where does that leave us? Where does it leave me, as I remember the pain my husband suffered before he died?

It leaves me remembering that our suffering is for a moment in light of eternity. It leaves me remembering:

“The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18 NIV).

And:

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV).

Keeping this eternal perspective does not come naturally. I need the ever-present ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life to continually remind me of these truths. Especially when my physical circumstances conspire to cause me to forget we were created for more than this earthly life.

But if you and I can maintain an eternal perspective, even in the face of dying and death, then we become living testimonies to the truth of God’s Word and the glory that is to come.

This world is not our destination. It is merely a bus stop. A train station. For the Christian, this is a bed-and-breakfast stopover on the way to our permanent mansion. And the experiences of pain, dying, and death remind us not to get too comfortable in a place that’s meant to be temporary.

Our days are, indeed, numbered…and I’m grateful for that assurance.

How about you?