Our beloved dog recently died. Should I correct my kids when they say they can’t wait to play with Rocky again in Heaven?
Humorist Will Rogers said, “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” This statement was, of course, based on sentiment, not theology. However, it reflects something biblical: a God-given affection for animals.
That’s why the question of whether pets will be in Heaven is not, as some assume, stupid. Animals aren’t nearly as valuable as people, but God is their maker and has touched many lives through them. It would be simple for Him to re-create a pet in Heaven if He wants to. He’s the giver of all good gifts, not the taker of them. If it would please us to have a pet restored to the New Earth, that may be sufficient reason.
We know animals will be on the New Earth, which is a redeemed and restored old Earth, in which animals had a prominent role. People will be resurrected to inhabit this world. Romans 8:21-23 assumes animals as part of a suffering creation eagerly awaiting deliverance through humanity’s resurrection. This seems to require that some animals who lived, suffered, and died on the old Earth must be made whole on the New Earth. Wouldn’t some of those likely be our pets?
In her excellent book, Holiness in Hidden Places, Joni Eareckson Tada says, “If God brings our pets back to life, it wouldn’t surprise me. It would be just like him. It would be totally in keeping with his generous character. . . Exorbitant. Excessive. Extravagant in grace after grace. Of all the dazzling discoveries and ecstatic pleasures heaven will hold for us, the potential of seeing Scrappy would be pure whimsy—utterly, joyfully, surprisingly superfluous. . . Heaven is going to be a place that will refract and reflect in as many ways as possible the goodness of joy of our great God, who delights in lavishing love on his children.”
In a poem about the world to come, theologian John Piper writes:
And as I knelt beside the brook
To drink eternal life, I took
A glance across the golden grass,
And saw my dog, old Blackie, fast
As she could come. She leaped the stream—
Almost—and what a happy gleam
Was in her eye. I knelt to drink
And knew that I was on the brink
Of endless joy. And everywhere
I turned I saw a wonder there.
We needn’t be embarrassed either to grieve the loss of our pets or to want to see them again. If we believe God is their creator, that He loves us and them, that He intends to restore His creatures from the bondage they experienced because of our sin, then we have biblical grounds for not only wanting but also expecting that we may be with them again on the New Earth.
So let’s not “correct” our kids when they pray they’ll be able to see their pets again. The answer to that prayer is up to God. He loves to hear the prayers of His children, and there is scriptural reason to believe He may answer those prayers. Remember that our children’s instinctive grasp of heaven—and what we should look forward to there—is sometimes better than ours.
This article is excerpted from Randy’s book, Heaven (Tyndale). Used with permission.
Copyright © 2005 by the author or Christianity Today International/Christian Parenting Today magazine, Summer 2005, Vol. 17, No. 4, Page 12