“Your sun shall no longer go down, nor shall the moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended. Also your people shall all be righteous; they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.” (Isaiah 60:20-21)
Life is a series of lessons in mourning gracefully — we learn to pack the bags, close the door gently behind us, wave goodbye from the backseat. We learn to lose, over and over. In small things and in larger things, we learn to surrender and move on. And though we may also gain much in life, each of us finish our lessons in loss with the same final exam: In death we lose everything, even ourselves.
But then — in Heaven — these losses, both trivial and great, will be over. Heaven will mark the boundary of mourning. We will never again lose another person, neither in death nor in brokenness. We will never again lose the dreams we once held in tightly closed fists. We will never again lose our way or our minds. We will never again lose our homes.
Having lost everything on Earth, our hearts will be ready to receive the inconceivable, that which Paul writes has not been seen, heard or even imagined by anyone: God’s great gift, a mystery already being prepared for the ones who love Him (I Corinthians 2:9).
What could this mystery be? We must try to imagine, though we are promised that our imaginations could never take us far enough into the glory of this future reality. Now we see as in a mirror dimly (I Corinthians 13:12); let us look, nonetheless.
Part of the vision is found in the very next line: “Also your people shall all be righteous.” Two words are fiercely important here: “all” and “righteous.” Remember Romans 9:10? “No one is righteous, no not one.” Isaiah 60:21 promises a great reversal. On Earth, none were righteous. In Heaven, all will be.
No restoration could be so complete as this one. This is not a neat evolution from a lesser form to a greater. It is a re-creation as complete and God-spoken as the original creation. This is a reversal of the center of man’s actions and desires, a rewriting of his spiritual DNA.
And what will this new DNA lead man to do? What will he be when he is no longer what he was? I John 3:2 holds a glimpse of the answer: “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”
“We shall be like Him.” Him. Who is He to you? Remember what you have read. Remember Who you have met in the stories. You will be like Him. The One who took on the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7), who did not receive honor from men (John 5:41), who carried the weight of the world and called it light, easy (Matthew 11:28-30). The One who met you in the deepest darkness of your suffering and your sin and refused to leave (Hebrews 13:5). The One who taught you that fear flees when love walks through the door (1 John 4:18). You shall be like Him.
All of this is spectacular — the end of mourning, the realization of righteousness, and not just righteousness, but a righteousness like His! All of this is nearly impossible to conceive of, but we have yet to reach the pinnacle of the mystery. Even with all of this, Heaven would be nothing without one more thing: His face.
The face of God may be the most mysterious thing of all. God did not even reveal His face to Moses, knowing that looking at it would kill him (Exodus 33:20). Even in Christ, God’s face was yet hidden behind the skin of humanity. But when He returns, His face will meet us uncovered, full of glory. And in that moment, we will finally receive faces that can look upon His own and live. Our faces will be forever changed, for His name will be on our foreheads (Revelation 22:4).
Is this hope enough? Remember it, and it will be. Think often of the implications of Heaven, of righteousness, and of the face of God. And in moments of complete darkness, hold tightly to this future light: The face of the One you love awaits you.