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.