Losing Loved Ones and Having Regrets
My mom had a sudden and massive heart attack last week. I never got to say goodbye. I never had the chance to tell her I loved her and to ask her to forgive me for all the times that I didn’t love her as I ought to have loved her. It was an extremely painful experience. Yet, in the face of extreme sorrow, the Lord graciously filled my mind with thoughts of eternity that I’ve never had before. One of those thoughts came on the ride to the cemetery. With anguish of heart, my Dad said, “I didn’t always love your Mom they way I should have. I know that I won’t be married to Mom in heaven, but I will love her perfectly for all eternity.” This, in turn, awakened thoughts in me that I’ve never had before. One of those thoughts was that Christ has purchased for believers, not only forgiveness of sins and a perfect righteousness but also the prospect of loving other believers perfectly in glory for all of eternity.
In Charity and Its Fruits, Jonathan Edwards made the following observation about the way in which the love of God will be worked out perfectly in the saints so that we will love each other perfectly forever:
In every heart in heaven, love dwells and reigns. The heart of God is the original seat or subject of love. Divine love is in him…from God, love flows out toward all the inhabitants of heaven…the angels and saints all love each other. All the members of the glorious society of heaven are sincerely united. There is not a single secret or open enemy among them all. Not a heart is there that is not full of love, and not a solitary inhabitant that is not beloved by all the others. And as all are lovely, so all see each other’s loveliness with full complacence and delight. Every soul goes out in love to every other ; and among all the blessed inhabitants, love is mutual, and full, and eternal.
This doesn’t mean that we get to shrug off our responsibility to love those around us now as God requires us to love them. Our Lord Jesus commanded us to love one another as He loved us (John 13:34). We should be zealous to love other believers with the same love with which we have been loved by Christ. We are to love believers now to the best of our ability by the grace of God. However, we don’t have to be weighed down with perpetual regrets for not having loved believers as we ought to have loved them here and now. Of course, we must go to the Lord for pardoning mercy and grace for the many times that we have failed in this respect. Additionally, we must strive to keep short accounts with each other in this life. Still, we know that we all fall miserably short of God’s standard of holiness and love in our relationships with one another. We know that we will never love as we ought to love in this life. This, in turn, should lead us to rest in what Christ has accomplished and purchased for us. Though we have failed to love believers with a perfect love, we will forever render to them what we know we owe them and what we sorrow over not having shown them more of in this life. Christ has purchased for us an eternity in which we will love each other as He has loved us–with a perfect and an everlasting love. If you are in Christ, be comforted by the fact that you have an eternity of love awaiting you in which you will love every other believer as you ought to have and as you wish you had loved them in this life.
Thanks so much for this. My husband was killed in a skiing accident at age 30 this past year and it has been one of my biggest struggles that I didn’t get to tell him goodbye or how much I loved him, though I believe he knew that. I also know it’s not goodbye forever because he and I are both in Christ, but in the traumatic moments leading up to his death, I could have tried to communicate that to him but I didn’t. These truths you have laid out have brought great comfort to my heart, and is a definite answer to prayer, even from the past 24 hours. The Lord is GOOD and His love endures forever.
Amy, I am so sorry to hear that you lost your husband, and at such a young age. I praise God that he is now in the presence of Christ, joining in that heavenly worship of the Lamb of God. I am grateful that the Lord comforted you with the thought that you will love your husband perfectly for all eternity in glory. May the Lord continue to strengthen your heart and comfort you as you mourn the loss of your husband.
Thank you for this–My mom died very suddenly, too, (2008) and I have struggled with the very thing you posted about since the day she went to Heaven. Thank you very much
Bless you, Nick. We had the opportunity to have your mom and dad for dinner when we lived in Taylors, SC, and we are thankful for it.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep., that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Thes. 4:13-14)
We weep with you my friend (Rom. 12:15).
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