Is it fair for a handicapped person to spend his life in a wheelchair and have to patiently wait until he dies to be able to walk in Heaven?
Without an eternal perspective, without understanding the reality that the best is yet to come, we assume that people who die young, who are handicapped, who aren’t healthy, who don’t get married, or who don’t _____ [fill in the blank] inevitably miss out on the best life has to offer. But the theology underlying those assumptions is fatally flawed. We’re presuming that our present Earth, bodies, culture, relationships, and lives are superior to those of the New Earth. That’s completely wrong!
Luke the physician tells of a great number of people who came to Jesus “to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all” (Luke 6:18-19). Consider what was going through Christ’s mind as he dealt with these image-bearers plagued by sickness, poverty, and spiritual oppression. He knew the world was full of people whom he wouldn’t heal in this life. He also knew that the same people he healed would one day grow weak again and die, leaving their families wailing over their graves.
What could Jesus say to such people? Luke tells us: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” (Luke 6:20-23).
Jesus tells the hungry they’ll be satisfied. Those whose eyes are swollen with tears will laugh. Those persecuted should leap for joy now. Why? Because of their great reward in Heaven later.
Where will Heaven be? In the parallel passage Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3-5). Earth is the setting for God’s ultimate comfort, for his reversal of life’s injustices and tragedies. We will live on what we inherit—the earth. All the blessings Jesus promised will be ours in the place we will live—the New Earth.
God promises to make up for the heartbreaks of this earth.
For more information on the subject of Heaven, see Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven.