Revelation 21 has good news for those called by God:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Not everyone looks forward to being made new.
Dr. Nancy Eiesland, who wrote an influential, frequently-cited book on God and disability, The Disabled God, does not agree that it is good news that all things will be made new. In an article in Impact, Dr. Eiesland writes about why she hopes she will have her disability in heaven:
As a person with a disability, I could not accept the traditional answers given to my own query of “What is disability?” Since I have a congenital disability, I have had opportunities to hear and experience many of these so-called answers through the years. They included “You are special in God’s eyes, that’s why you were given this painful disability.” Imagine it didn’t seem logical. Or “Don’t worry about your pain and suffering now, in heaven you will be made whole.” Again, having been disabled from birth, I came to believe that in heaven I would be absolutely unknown to myself and perhaps to God. My disability has taught me who I am and who God is. What would it mean to be without this knowledge?
Dr. Eiesland also concluded that God is disabled; that’s a subject for a different post.
I don’t know what our new bodies will be like. Like most people, I imagine these new bodies will be spectacular. But the greatest thing isn’t that we will have new bodies.
The greatest thing is we will be in the presence of Jesus without any of our old sin-filled existence dragging on us. For eternity we will enjoy Jesus purely, without any worry about sinful motives clouding our judgment, drawing our attention away from our Savior, or tempting us to do anything other than what Jesus would have us do, which is enjoy him.
So, I am expecting that none of us, even those who live a disability-free existence in this life, will have any relevant comparison point when we arrive in Jesus’ presence. Sin has distorted everything in this life:
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:19-23
So, as much as I look forward to knowing my Paul without all his disabilities getting in the way, I really look forward to being free of my sin. And I take Dr. Eiesland’s perspective as a warning that anything can be used to distort our understanding of the age that is to come.
Our physical bodies here will not determine our eternity. Only God does that, by the work of Jesus Christ. And Jesus himself has said, “I am making all things new.”