Is there really a heaven? If there is, what's it like?
Is there really a heaven? If there is, what's it like? (Photo by Paxson Woelber on Unsplash)

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.

For example, Psalm 139:16 tells us God knows the end of our life before it begins: "Your eyes saw me unformed, yet in Your book all my days were written, before any of them came into being."

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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 godly ones."

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 begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).

"Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God. Believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may be also" (John 14:1-3).

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:

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us" (Rom. 8:18) and "Our light affliction, which lasts but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

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?

Ava Pennington is a writer, speaker and Bible teacher. She writes for nationally circulated magazines and is published in 32 anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She also authored Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, endorsed by Kay Arthur. Learn more at AvaWrites.com.

This article originally appeared at avawrites.com.

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