“What Happens When We Die?”

By Deidra Riggs

September 15, 2018

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:5


One perfect day this summer, I drove to the grocery store with my ten-year-old niece and my eighty-year-old father in the car. We had the windows down, the sunroof open, and the radio off. Out of the silence, my niece asked this question: “What do you think happens when we die?”

A little girl standing in front of a colorfully painted wall.I admit to being caught off guard. I gathered my thoughts and rambled on and on for a few miles about existential possibilities, philosophical abstracts, and unproven theories about the afterlife. I mean, I used the Bible as my foundation but, who can truly know the answer to that question?

Glancing at my niece, in the midst of my rambling, I was convinced I’d complicated things with all my words. Her brow was furrowed and her chin dipped close to her chest. “Good grief!” I thought. “I broke my niece!”

Just then, my dad cleared his throat and said, “God has promised he is making all things new, and I think that’s probably what happens when we die. It’s not like here and now, where we get bored and lose interest in things. With God, everything is always new.”

Whew! Dad to the rescue, as always. My niece relaxed in her seat and started talking about what we might purchase at the grocery store, and I breathed a sigh of relief, thankful for a dad who has always known the right words to say.

I remembered this ride to the grocery store a few days ago, on a train ride from my home in Connecticut to Grand Central Station in New York City. Just a few rows ahead of me, a little boy sat with his nose and forehead pressed against the window. He was about four years old and, every few seconds, he remarked about something he saw through the window: Look, Ma! A cow! Mom! I just saw a flower! Look at that train! Wow! Everything he saw was a wonder—brand new and spectacular.

I don’t know what happens after we die, but I imagine it includes a whole lot of, Oh my goodness! Would you look at that?!?! Wow!

Something to think about:

How would you answer the question my niece asked?

Something to do:

Listen to this song by Mercy Me.


I hear no voice, I feel no touch,
I see no glory bright;
But yet I know that God is near,
In darkness as in light.
He watches ever by my side,
And hears my whispered prayer:
The Father for His little child
Both night and day doth care.

— Author Unknown


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Introduction: Understanding the Book of Revelation

Deidra Riggs

Writer & Author

Deidra Riggs is a national speaker, an editor, and the founder and host of Jumping Tandem: The Retreat, a bi-annual event for writers, authors, and entrepreneurs. She is a storyteller who creates safe space for navigating...

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