what happens after death – the quest for assurance

Something I’ve been discussing with friends is the quest for assurances about what happens to us after death.  I often think that it’s a little too easy to say, “oh I’m not afraid of death!” It has to be normal to wonder about what happens to us after death, and to work hard at avoiding it! No doubt it’s part of what keeps us alive. At this point in my life, I must say that I can’t think about death without thinking “what does God say about it?” We have the word of others who were close to God and faced death much closer than I – like Paul, who nearly died several times from acts of violence, starvation, and shipwrecks. And there’s Jesus himself, who died a violent death, but then got up from being dead to give us the very assurances we all need. How cool is that. Can there be any greater authority on death and life than he?

So what do we do with this need for assurances about life after death? The best I know how, I go to God, the ultimate truth on the matter. In my few years I feel so fortunate to know at least some of his love for me, to have seen his mercy/kindness in times of great need, and his power over my life’s circumstances when the waves of fear are too much for me. I don’t have any other place to go with my fear, but to him. And he’s never not been there in every single situation – my journey with him started when I was 15 (58 now). I’ve seen too much, I know too much not to believe him. It would be like telling Christopher Columbus that the earth was flat and if he sails too far he’ll fall off the edge. He’d sailed the globe, he knew too much, and those words would fall flat, but not Christopher. And I’m convinced the assurance I have inside me is not something I’ve mustered up, but it’s something God’s holy spirit gave me, and which he gives to anyone who asks him for it.

So what would I say to anyone seeking additional assurance? I say draw close to him with all your heart, and he will come to you, and give you that assurance, like he’s done for me. And not just assurance about life after this earth, but true life with him right here on earth. I’m no more special than any of his created ones, and his offer extends to all. I find I’m most open to receiving from him when I’ve come to the end of my rope; my own means. Some people’s ropes are longer than other’s, and it’s the fortunate ones that get to the end of it, so that God is all we want above all else. What else can I say? Sure, we can look to words of truth in the scriptures that speak of this assurance (a few below). But just seeing the words on a page has never been enough for me either, unless I have something “quickening” in me that injects faith in God in what I’m reading. It’s what Jesus was talking about in John’s gospel, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” It seems to me that only by having our own relationship with God can we have such confidence. And surely God knows this. Jesus had such compassion and desire for people to know him, saying things like, “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:8), and, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) I take comfort in these words. He knows what we need even before we ask. I believe we move forward in our quest by simply coming to him, finding honest words, and listening with our hearts to his response.

If interested, here’s a few scripture verses regarding assurance of life after death with God:

* Psalm 23:4 – David comforted by God even in the face of death

* Romans 8:38-39 – Paul comforting the Christians in Rome that neither death nor any earthly or other power can separate us from God’s love that comes through Jesus

* 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 – Paul comforting the Christians in Corinth that death has no “sting” when they are safe in Jesus

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