The topic of the new heaven and new earth is a popular one with some of the people we hang out with. As you can probably guess, they also have children with severe disabilities. There is comfort in thinking about our children being free from their limitations and pain.
But this hope can be dangerous, too. We envision heaven to be a wonderful place, full of freedom and laughter and conversation. No more seizures! Legs that can walk! Eyes that see!
And nothing about Jesus.
Does that thought make you recoil in horror? Can you imagine eternity without Jesus?
The Benefits Without the Person
For a long time I did just that. I wanted the benefits of Jesus’ work, but it didn’t really matter if he was there or not. When the suffering is persistent, lifelong and intense, the desire to be free from that suffering can overshadow the whole point of why we were created: to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
That subtle change of emphasis away from Jesus can also cloud our thinking about the Bible. The healing of the paralytic in Mark 2 can become primarily about his healing rather than what Jesus clearly stated as the purpose: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10).
Remember What's Most Amazing
When I focus on Jesus it becomes easy to get excited about spending eternity with him. Jesus forgives sins. Jesus holds the universe together by the word of his power. We get to be with him, no matter our physical or cognitive abilities in this age, because Jesus paid a debt we could not pay, gives us a righteousness we cannot earn, and opens the eyes of our hearts to see him as he is. That is what’s amazing.
And the Apostle John tells us when he appears we not only get to be with him, we get to be like him (1 John 3:2).
I can’t even begin to imagine this. No more battling our sin. No more unrighteous thoughts.
Why It Will Be Wonderful
And no more disability. I believe that part of God making "all things new" (Revelation 21:5) includes my blind, autistic, cognitively disabled son being able to see, communicate clearly and think rationally.
I expect it will be wonderful. Not primarily because he isn’t disabled any longer, but because we both get to enjoy Jesus, forever.