From an email I sent today answering a question that followed-up on a recent sermon.
I think you understood what I was saying exactly right. And, wow, that’s a good question. If troubles are valuable here for our growth, will we not have them in heaven?
I think it’s hard to figure out exactly what is going to happen in the world to come. On the one hand, the lion will lie down with the lamb, and God will wipe away every tear, and there is no more sorrow or pain or death. On the other, it seems to me that there will still be meaningful work to do (although what kind of work I really can’t imagine). Since the saints will reign with Christ, doesn’t that mean that they will be overseeing some kind of divine project? For a long time I’ve thought that the verses that say those who are faithful with few things will be trusted with many things imply some kind of continuation on the new earth–if we are faithful here, God will give us even more (and more meaningful) work to do there. Since human fulfillment seems to depend a lot on creatively overcoming obstacles to accomplish purposeful work, I have a hard time thinking that God would wire us that way and then the resurrected life would wind up being one enormous, overly long summer vacation. There’s more there, although the Bible only hints at it.
I guess my working theory is that in our incorruptable states, pain and loss won’t work any more as a means to growth. Peace can permeate everything. But somehow I don’t think that means we give up on excitement–it’ll just turn into the kind of excitement when things get gradually better and better, in surprising ways, and each new step forward is an unexpected delight. But I can’t provide book, chapter and verse for that! It just seems to be to be the overall trajectory of the scriptures.
Thinking out loud here,