I have been rubbing shoulders with death lately. My father-in-law passed away a month shy of his 99th birthday. My wife and I had been staying with him and my brother-in-law for the last five months. He was a grand old man who wanted to live to 100, but his body just didn’t last the distance.
Then today I heard that one of my cousins had also passed away. We weren’t especially close, but it still caused me to reflect on the fact that someone I had known well for a time was no longer around. It is an odd and unfamiliar feeling. A couple of voices have been lost to the world, distinctive voices that don’t have a match anywhere. Life is different now. The world—or at least my world—is not the same.
What happens to those who pass on isn’t talked about a lot in the Bible. Jesus went to a place called Paradise after His death on the cross.1 We also know that He went to visit the spirits in prison,2 but that doesn’t necessarily mean Paradise and that “prison” are the same place. Paul said he knew of a man—many think he was alluding to himself—who visited Paradise, which he also called the third heaven, in an event so profound that he wasn’t sure if he physically visited it or it was only a spiritual experience.3 In one of His parables, Jesus told of a poor man, Lazarus, who died and was carried to Abraham’s side.4
Jesus promised that those who believe in Him have eternal life, and knowing the nature of our God, and how love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and gentleness are the essence of His Spirit, I think we can be sure that life after death in His presence will be a wonderful experience.5
Physical life has a beginning and an end. We naturally rejoice at birth and grieve at death. For now there is a silence in my soul, but I know that is not the end of the story.