Perhaps one of the most child-like questions many of us have tossed around at one time or another is this: do our pets go to heaven?
Pastor Todd Wagner from Watermark Community Church sat down for an interview to get to the bottom of this critical question.
He begins by saying “In all tenderness and compassion, we know alot people develop a real bond with their pet… When people lose that animal that is a real loss. So let me not minimize that and make fun of it … There’s a lot of pain associated with that loss”
And he’s right, according to a study cited by the New York Times 30% of pet owners report severe grief that lasted longer than 6 months, and 12% experience severe life disruption from their pet’s loss.
Perspectives in Psychiatric Care also notes grief that occurs after a pet’s death is “in many ways comparable to that of the loss of a family member” for many people. This all points back to why this question drudges up for many the hope for freedom from grief.
Pastor Wagner goes on to say “I can confidently tell you as a Pastor… if what you needed for heaven to be everything you dreamt it to be was for your pet to be there, I have no problem pastorally telling you there is nothing in scripture that would definitely preclude that.”
His response may have many silently jumping for joy. Knowing his statement of support for pets in the afterlife will be fiercely embraced, he continues on to still affirm the need for God’s perspective. When it comes to our expectations of heaven he cautions us to remember God’s promise.
“I will tell you this pastorally and theologically when we’re in heaven and we’re in the presence of Christ, we’re not going to long for something else because He will be our satisfaction.”
He then quotes, Revelations 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He continues: “If you go ‘I can’t even imagine heaven being great if there wasn’t my sweet pet there,’ then I would say that God understands that longing but you don’t understand the glory and goodness, completeness and fullness of God”
Pastor Wagner’s compassionate and honest approach regarding the eternal destiny of our little companions is one of many theological voices on the subject. His response in particular leaves room for both hope of the future and acceptance of whatever God has in store.
His closing thought keeps in mind those currently mourning a beloved pet:
“God understands your pain, God loves you.”
You can watch the full interview here.