In my high school literature class, we studied Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, in which hell’s occupants are confined to a room and have nothing to do but engage in fruitless, pointless discussions.
I once read another article about hell, where hell is depicted as a polished hospital-like facility with rooms full of people involved in much the same work they did on earth, but without any hope of achieving anything worthwhile: scientists engage in endless experiments that bear no results, soldiers fight battles that never end, trains never reach their destinations, and rockets don’t make it off the ground. Nothing ever gets done. In Inferno, the first part of Dante’s epic poem A Divine Comedy, part of hell is pictured as an endless mountain range that one must keep climbing, one peak after another.
But heaven is just the opposite. According to the Bible, heaven will be a place of everlasting peace, beauty, fruitful work, and fulfillment. We will experience complete joy as we live in the presence of God and fellowship with each other.1 This is in stark contrast to the misconception of the blessed spending eternity floating on clouds and idly strumming harps.
And the joy we look forward to in heaven can begin right now. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus prays to God the Father, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”2 And another time, when asked when the kingdom of God would come, He said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation, for indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”3 In other words, it’s already here in our hearts—or can be.
The 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary defined “life” as: “The enjoyments or blessings of the present life; supreme felicity; eternal happiness in heaven.” Again, it’s both here and now, and there and then.
The apostle John makes it more personal by saying, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”4
To know Jesus personally is to have a taste of heaven.
There is a way out of futility and uncertainty. Jesus can give you new meaning and purpose, starting when you invite Him into your life:
Dear Jesus, please forgive me for all my sins. I believe that You died for me. I open the door to my heart, and I invite You into my life. Please fill me with Your love and Holy Spirit, help me get to know You, and guide me in the way of truth. Amen.