Revelation 21:4: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

John’s jubilee towards the end of his book of Revelation is famous and source of comfort for the tormented. Heaven is a good place. Heavenly features to look forward to are God’s loving presence, His overwhelming joy and peace and the absence of human sorrow and pain.

However, does this mean that there is no pain in heaven? What about God’s pain of losing His creatures due to their free will? Since we don’t have to choose Him (God being no dictator) pain is inevitable, because apparently there will always be creatures opposing the Eternal One. They will be harvesting ongoing pain, and consequently, God will go through the parental pain of not being able to help them. If God is in pain, how can we be oblivious to that when we’re right there, in heaven, the place God calls His home? Don’t we share both His joy and pain, especially as we get closer to Him?

Personally, I think Heaven would be one-dimensional if we had it any other way. Joy has more depth to it if we are unafraid of pain and embrace the undesirable feeling of sadness.

My husband Bill and I cried more than one tear when we lost our cat Misty. We had her going on 15 years. She came to us when she was a kitten and left her paw prints permanently in our hearts. I remember the puzzled look on the face of some people when I came grief-stricken to a meeting, and assuming I lost a dear friend or relative of ours came to find out we had lost a pet. Obviously, not everybody will be able to relate, but trust me: somebody will!

The worst part of being in pain is thinking we are alone in this. That, quite frankly, is a lie. Even if (hypothetically speaking) nobody should be able to empathize with what you are going through, God certainly can. However, the reality is: people can usually relate. We don’t have to go very far to find out that another person has been dealing with some kind of grief. When pain bears the fruit of empathy it will create community. If nothing makes sense in pain, this always will: Your pain will equip you to be the best friend you can be to the person next to you who is facing some major challenges.

We are made for one another. God has created us not only to beat loneliness but to make life a whole lot richer.

Here it is, plain and simple written in the skies: Money does not make us rich. Relationships do!

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