I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” [Revelation 21:3-4 (NLT)
In a recent Close to Home comic (drawn by John McPherson), we see the back of a white-haired gentleman at a podium. Several people are facing him with hands raised. “Does the universe really go on forever or is there a brick wall at the end?” asks one. “Who would win in a total fight to the death? Attila the Hun or Mike Tyson?” asks another. The caption at the bottom says, “Once a week, God holds a question and answer session for new arrivals in Heaven.” It reminded me of a quote by Bethany Hamilton, a professional surfer who, at the age of 13, survived the loss of her left arm in a 2003 shark attack.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers to why bad things happen to good people. But I do know that God knows all those answers and sometimes He lets you know in this life, and sometimes He asks you to wait so that you can have a face-to-face talk about it. [From “Soul Surfer” by Bethany Hamilton]
Later that day, I was talking with a widow friend. It had been just three months since her husband died in her arms and she has many questions she’d like God to answer. Thinking of the young surfer’s quote, I reminded her that any questions we don’t get answered in this lifetime will be answered in the next. We then looked at each other and almost simultaneously said, “But, will we care?”
It occurred to us that, once in heaven, all of our earthly questions will be insignificant. We think we want to know why someone suffered or a child’s innocence was violently stolen. We think we want God’s reasoning for a partner’s betrayal, the barren womb, a loved one’s addiction, or a spouse’s death. Once in God’s presence, I wonder if those questions will seem as ridiculous as the questions posed by the people in McPherson’s comic strip.
As Job learned, our “whys” are not likely to be answered on this side of the pearly gates and I doubt we’ll need those answers on other side. The repentant thief on the cross beside Jesus was told, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Do you think when he got there, he spent time asking God about his abusive step-father or the unfairness of his death sentence? Our last breath here will be followed by our first breath in heaven (a place without pain or tears—one of joy and perfect peace) and all of our earthly concerns will be gone. When we arrive in God’s dwelling place and come face to face with Jesus, I seriously doubt we’ll have any questions that need answering. Knowing God’s love for us, it will all make sense.