When the husband of my longtime friend and publishing colleague collapsed and later died, there was no doubt that life had slipped away from him. There were witnesses. The same was true when Jesus died. But three days later, Jesus was raised from the dead! We have no doubt that this is true because there were witnesses who later saw Him alive.

When we gathered for Dave’s memorial service, we read familiar passages of Scripture that affirm our hope that he is now enjoying new life in heaven. But we claimed these promises by faith because none of us witnessed Dave go to heaven. There was, however, a witness who saw Jesus in heaven. Not long after witnesses saw Jesus ascend (Acts 1:9), Stephen saw the heavens open “and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (7:56). One of the reasons we know that Jesus spoke the truth about going to prepare a place for us (John 14:2) is that He has been seen alive in heaven.

When a loved one goes ahead of us to heaven, we feel as if we’re being pulled in the opposite direction—down into an abyss of sadness. Yet, because God kept His promise to raise Christ and take Him to heaven, we can trust Him to do the same for all who love and follow Him.