Imagine that a person was seriously ill and near death but then recovered. Recalling his experience, he says that recovering from the surgery that saved his life was extremely painful. But then he jokingly remarks, “Think of the alternative!”
Even Christians sometimes say that. Yet what does that common jest imply? Is it better to endure the pain of this temporal world than to die and enter the eternal joys of heaven?
We know that life in the coming world will be so much better than the life we now experience in this world. According to the apostle Paul, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain. . . . To depart and be with Christ . . . is far better” (Philippians 1:21,23).
Certainly we are thankful for material blessings and provisions from the Lord and all the meaningful relationships we experience here and now by His grace. But as Christians, let’s not even jokingly agree that the option of entering heaven is less desirable than surviving on this sin-cursed earth. We eagerly anticipate the joy of being with our Lord Jesus Christ in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Someday “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain” (Revelation 21:4). What a blessed alternative!
What rejoicing in His presence,
When are banished grief and pain,
When the crooked ways are straightened
And the dark things shall be plain. —Breck
Life's greatest joy is the prospect of heaven.