Eternally Miserable in Heaven – really?

When one thinks about heaven, feelings of peace, no more pain or suffering and eternal bliss typically come to mind. But for some skeptics, the concept of living forever is an awful thought. To a post I recently put on Twitter about eternal life, here are some of the responses I received:


“If it (eternal life) existed, it would be a curse! After a million years of constant bliss, would your favorite food still mean anything? A sunrise still be beautiful? Your beloved persons still be fascinating?”


“What can you talk about after too many years? What can you do without being bored? And ‘forever’ is a lot longer than a million years. The idea sounds maybe nice if you think it means you won’t ever die or lose friends or family, but sit down and REALLY think about it… Living for an eternity is bound to drive anybody insane.“


“This concept gave me panic attacks while trying to fall asleep as a child. No thanks.”


“Living forever sounds like the worst form of torture, regardless of whether it’s in heaven
or hell.”


A New Topic to Defend

As a Christian Apologist, I typically end up defending why the the Bible is God’s Word or how Jesus’ resurrection really happened. But to defend why heaven is a good thing? Yeah, that’s a new one on my radar.

What this tells me is that many people can’t wrap their brains around eternity. That’s understandable. We are finite creatures trying to comprehend the infinite. We live in this space and time, where every second on our clocks is counted, measured, calculated… time can be a hard-task driver.

Yet when it comes to heaven, should we look at time differently? This is a space where the constraints our of present reality won’t matter. We will be in another dimension, and no one knows how that will be experienced, exactly. 

What will we do in heaven, anyway? Will it be like a really long church service? Will we lose our sense of wonder? Why don’t we know more about this place that the Bible says is our ultimate home?

Hints of What’s to Come

There are some things we can know from reading Scripture. There are hints of what’s to come, and when fully understood, it will be nothing like the skeptics fear. But the unknown can be scary. For the believer, however, we should not fear death (Ps. 23:4). Matter of fact, at the point of death, we need not fear. Luke 16:22 says, “Now, the poor man died and was carried away by angels to Abraham’s bosom…” This implies that as soon as we die, angels will usher us into heaven! Now that’s a heavenly thought.

We will then pass into what some have called an “intermediate heaven.”1 Between Genesis 3 and Revelation 20, the believer immediately goes into the presence of God in heaven, a temporary place, where we will await the final return of Christ to Earth. Then, once Christ returns, many Bible scholars think that is when we will receive our new resurrected bodies, and then there will be a millennial reign of Christ on Earth. Finally, a new heaven and a new earth will be created, and we will help rule this new creation for all of time.

C.S. Lewis called living on Earth as “the Shadowlands.”2 He likened it to Earth being a shadowed-reflection of heaven. The present heaven is where we go upon death, just like Jesus said to the criminal dying on a cross next to Him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43). Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). It’s a place where we will eat from the Tree of Life (Rev. 2:7). So, this suggests that heaven is a tangible place, with trees. It’s not some surreal, non-physical realm. It is God’s country.

Scripture describes Heaven, or Paradise, as a place where believing family members are (Heb. 12:22-24). When you get there, you will be surrounded by those you loved on earth who received eternal life by believing Jesus is the Messiah. It is the place where our Heavenly Father is (Matt.6), and where Jesus sits at His right hand (Heb. 9). Heaven is where our names are recorded (Luke 10), and where we will receive an inheritance (1 Pet. 1:4). This inheritance is not just eternal life, but rewards you will have earned while working on earth for the glory of God. 

What we do in this life affects the next. This has nothing to do with earning your place in heaven, for salvation is a gift of faith to all those who believe. But it has everything to do with what you’ll do after you get there. What you do with your life on Earth affects your job in heaven. Just as God gave Adam and Eve a job to take care of the Garden of Eden, He’ll continue to employ us based on how we lived once receiving Christ. He will give us assignments in heaven, and some may even judge angels! (1 Cor. 6:3)

Paul tells the Corinthians that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10.) Be glad to know this now and adjust your goals accordingly. 

The Next Narrative

What does God value that He will reward in heaven? The number one thing God values is LOVE… did we love well? Love expresses itself in giving selflessly, being kind to others in word and action, and being generous to those in need. Love corrects wrongs, guides people into good behavior, and disciplines when necessary. But love is not meant to be accepting of everything someone does. We can love well by standing firm for the truth of God’s ways as it is written in the Bible. Yet, we must speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), especially when we’re dealing with non-believers. How do we love well? By following Christ’s example as written in the gospels. Love is of the highest value to God and will be rewarded in heaven.

The current narrative of life lived on earth is about “the battle between good and evil.” We all know that battle too well. But what’s the next narrative? Can you possibly imagine life without the struggle? Imagine this — love never ends (1 Cor. 13:8).

Artwork by: Elena Khomoutova

“Love is the next narrative, and because God is love (1 John 4:16), we will go into eternity learning about love forever.”

– Lisa Quintana
  1.  Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Carol Stream, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2004).
  2.  Lewis, C. S., and Pauline Baynes. The Last Battle (New York: Macmillan, 1956).


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