The words above are often said to one in grief as a way of providing comfort, or at least comforting thoughts. We want to imagine that the loved one is not in any more pain. We want to think that the physical problems he might have been dealing with are no longer a worry. We want to think that the soul is at peace. We want to think the best—that the departed loved one is “in a better place.” Might it be that everything has, in reality, suddenly gotten worse?
The Scriptures certainly give us examples of some for whom that could be truthfully said. The account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19) illustrates so many great lessons, but for us at this moment, we can see how everyone would think that the rich man had gone to an even better place than that which he had experienced on earth. Read this passage from Luke 16:22–31:
The rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Clearly, the rich man did not expect to find himself in this situation, but it was one of his own doing. He could have been obedient to God! It was a choice that he made not to do so, and his eternity was sealed. Lazarus was obedient, and he went to “a better place.”
Back to the original thoughts from the title, many people do somehow seem to understand that there is a better place, but they simply do not try to get there.