Heartbreak and Heaven


I’ve recently been introduced to the music group Mumford and Sons. These are very talented young men whose music typically takes up Christian themes. In one song, making reference to heaven, we hear, “there will come a time you’ll see ... [when] love will not break your heart.” The singer is directing us to the hopes of the next life, assuring us that love will have its fulfillment. Yet, at the same time, this is a sad thought. For it brings forth a very trying truth about this life. On this side of heaven, it seems, love is destined to break our hearts. Regardless of how long or perfect the love we enjoy, whether it is with friends or family or a spouse, we know that we cannot hold onto it. It will pass from us eventually. In this world, love necessitates heartbreak. Even Jesus weeps at the death of Lazarus.

Heartbreak hangs over every love in this life, save one. Our hearts are troubled by the distance, separation or death of the ones we love. But through the Incarnation, death, and Resurrection of Jesus, God has overcome every possible source of heartbreak in our relationship with him. Becoming one of us, he is more intimate to us than we are to ourselves. Through his Spirit, he abides within us perpetually. Going to the Cross and grave, he now remains with us even as we lose everything else. Rising from the dead, Jesus reveals that death itself is powerless to oppose God’s love. This has Saint Paul brimming with confidence: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). Even in this fragile life, God’s love will never break our hearts.

Jesus’ Resurrection makes another guarantee: “love never fails” (1Cor. 13:8). Those loves that are rooted in Christ — those human loves which are enjoyed not simply for this world, but which aim together for the next — they never end. Regardless of how short or imperfect such love might have been in this world, if it was ever in the Lord, it will abide forever in eternity. Such spiritual loves are not mere instruments of our sanctification, tools to get to God. They are a very real foretaste of the Communion of Saints. While, in this life, loss inevitably strikes these loves as well, they need not slump into heartbreak. For along with such love comes the faith and hope that it will last forever. Indeed, if it is rooted in God, how could it not?