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My wife died recently. Will I see and recognise her in heaven?
Thank you so much for your question, which must be a very important one to you at this time of grief. We are praying that you will know God's presence and help. I want to assure you that, if you and your wife have both known Christ as your Saviour, you will know your dear wife when you see her again in Heaven. Of course, the Bible teaches that there are two eternal destinies.
Your question is a very important one that goes to the heart of what eternal life means for the Christian. All those who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour have the great hope of Heaven, described by Paul in 1 Corinthians as a place where death is swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54). It is the place where what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2). In other words, we do not yet know exactly what it will be like there, but we do know that we will see the Lord Jesus Christ clearly and completely. Obviously, then, we will recognise and worship Him.
It is the phrase we shall be like Him that causes Christians to wonder whether we will know each other in heaven, for we know that we will be changed. Paul writes that
This perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:53)
It is true that we will be transformed into Christ-like beings with bodies that can live forever in Heaven, but the Bible gives plenty of evidence that we will know those that we have loved. Paul tells us that
Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Heaven will be a place where all our human limitations of knowledge and understanding are removed. We will know God fully and intimately and will understand things now hidden from us. We will have intimate fellowship with His children, too, and that means that we will know those we have loved and known most intimately on earth.
Luke 16:19-31 contains the story of the rich man and Lazarus, a poor man who had begged outside his gate. Though only one of them went to Heaven, they recognised each other from a great distance.
Luke 9:28-36 describes the Transfiguration of Jesus, where His friends Peter, James and John saw His appearance change as He prayed, so that He became radiant with Heavenly glory. Two great men from the Old Testament, Moses and Elijah, appeared and talked with Him. Peter, James and John had never seen them before, obviously, but they knew them at once.
When Jesus appeared in the garden to Mary Magdalene and later, in the upper room and other places, to the disciples, they knew Him. This is a sign that we, too, will know our loved ones.
Heaven does not abolish our individual human personality and history, but perfects it. It is inconceivable that, in Heaven, the earthly history of great servants of God like Paul and John will be forgotten. Rather, they will be rewarded. (Luke 6:23: 1 Corinthians 3:14; Revelation 11:18)
In Heaven, we will know each other far beyond our limited knowledge in this life. Just as a mother recognises her own child's cry, so we will recognise our loved ones although we have been separated for many years. Heaven will be the ultimate family reunion, where we will have no difficulty recognising the loved ones who have gone on before us, though the Heavenly family we now belong to will be larger and more complete.
I hope these wonderful truths are a comfort to you and that this answer goes some way to helping you find peace.
It is one thing to believe in heaven and assume that you are going there. However, Jesus makes it clear that you can only get to heaven by believing in him:
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16).
Do you have faith in Jesus Christ to save you? Have you repented of your sin, turning your back on your old way of life to live for Jesus? Do you know that you are going to heaven because of what Jesus has done? If not, then I urge you to pray to God, ask for forgiveness and receive from Him today!
I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video
I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church
Please feel free to submit a question to us or to read our answer database: Ask a Question
*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline
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