"Heaven with a memory won't be Heaven at all"
There is a legitimate question about Eternity that some people ask, and many people fear, namely,
"Will I remember the people whom I have loved in this life, but who I will never see again in Heaven because they went to Hell instead? Won't the knowledge of their eternal suffering be a dreadful
state for me?"
It seems to me the fearful answer is that we will possess "memory" in Heaven, for how else will we know to be thankful for what God has done (past tense) for us? And, yes, we will very likely
remember the loved ones who will be lost forever. And, yes, this implies sorrow and regret... for a while. And, No, God likely won't "fix" us so we don't remember or feel sorrow. We need memory and
compassion in Heaven, probably even more so than we need it in this life.
"So what's the solution, for Heaven is supposed to be a place of joy and fulfillment, right?" Actually the Bible says that He will wipe away every tear, which means that all sorrow will be comforted.
But this seems cold comfort if we know the someone, much less love the someone, who will be forever separated from us, much less separated from the love of God.
But rather than give the answer immediately, I would like to tell a story that is happening in our family right now.
Our niece is currently rebelling. She is lying, disobeying, and engaging in destructive behavior that affects not only herself, but her sisters as well. The family is at its wits end. It all seems so
strange. Here is a girl that was loved at all times during her first seventeen years. At no time did her mother ever cease to care about her. Nevertheless she is now rejecting all that in favor of
the whims of her teenage friends.
Now if she dies, how will we remember her? Doubtless as the innocent child we knew and loved for those previous 17 years. Will we be sorry? You bet we will. Especially since she never got or took the
chance to change her life for the better. Will we accuse her mother for her death or our sorrow? Hardly! We know for a fact that her mother loved her and treated her well, protected her, cooked and
cleaned for her, clothed her and cried with her. There will be no recriminations, no accusations... just sadness.
This earthly example I think illustrates something of Eternity for us. In Heaven we will meet our Savior face to face. We will experience the love of God in a way that we never would have believed
possible. And when we come to know this One who loves us so, when we feel that pervading Love throughout our entire being, when we believe beyond all doubt that He truly loves us and them (who we have now lost), then we will know that He did everything possible to save them, but they at last said no.
I suppose that the tract "5 Minutes Later" will ring true, that we will also regret the wasted time and lost opportunities of our own lives. But just like a child who dies, the tragedy cannot afflict
us forever. Parents who are still mourning and bitter 50 years later over the death of an infant are thought of as foolish by those who know that eventually you just have to "let go". And so too in
Heaven, when we meet God in His Son, we won't need convincing that God loved them just as much as He loves us, but their rejection of him is pretty much like our nieces rejection of her mother,
tragic but true.