In the face of the phenomenon of death people have embraced various beliefs. Many people believe a person lives beyond death only in the sense of living through their children or of living in the memory of others because of some good deeds or something truly notable they have accomplished.  We speak of people being immortal in that way e.g.   Abraham Lincoln.  That    is the common understanding of people of the Jewish faith.  Hindus believe a person lives countless lives through reincarnation, returning to life in a higher or lower form according to the way one has lived in the previous life.  Such a belief is quite different   from belief in personal immortality.

Some people see belief in life after death as mere wishful thinking. They assume people indulge in the belief in immortality because they can’t accept the idea that death is the end of everything.

Still others see belief in life after death as part of an ideology used to justify oppression in this world.  That is a Communist theory.  According to that ideology, Christianity in particular is seen as proposing the acceptance of oppression and suffering in this world in view of later rewards in another life.  They proposed a parody of the Christian belief.  “Slave all day.  Feed on hay. There’ll be pie in the sky when you die.”

Clearly, those views are quite different from what we believe as Christians.  In many ways the Bible, especially the message of Jesus, assures us there is life after death.  But we are not given a detailed description of what life after death is like.  We are assured of a heaven in which we shall see God face to face.  What that actually means is really beyond our present power of imagination or reasoning.

In the Christian philosophical tradition we say we can prove the immortality of the soul beyond physical death.  But many are not convinced by those arguments.  In any case such reasoning does not clarify what the Bible tells us of the next his life.

In the final analysis, what is needed is faith.  We are often invited to reaffirm our faith in life beyond physical death e.g. when we attend a funeral or celebrate feasts of the saints.
Finally, it is good to remind ourselves that in the midst of the troubles, pain, and suffering we experience in this “valley of tears” our faith invites us to be optimistic.  Our faith also invites us  to be a people of hope because we believe that life, not death is the ultimate reality.