In 2000, our son Matt was born with post axial hypoplasia in his left leg. This condition can have a variety of bone abnormalities. In his case, his left femur, tibia, and fibula were not the same length as those on his right and would likely never “catch up” during his growth to maturity. In addition, of the twenty-six bones that most people have in their left foot, Matt had just two. The doctor was unable to determine if those two were phalanges or metatarsals as there were no other bones whatsoever inside the flesh that bore a vague resemblance to a typical human foot.
The painful solution to this condition was amputation of that foot when he was just seven months old to create a heel pad on the distal end of his limb. That surgery allowed him to be fitted for a prosthetic left leg which could address both disabilities created by the condition. First, it provided a substitute foot so that he would be able to walk. Second, the knee down nature of the device created a way to artificially lengthen the left leg as he grew so that it could always be the same length as the right leg.
Now, as his parents, my wife and I have obviously done all we can to help Matt with his disability. That’s what you do when you face something wrong in life, particularly with those people you love most. You do your best to make it right. Further, we have celebrated the advancements of technology that have helped him. Isn’t it amazing that he was the first of our four children to walk? I’ll never forget when he stood up and ambled across our kitchen floor at just 11 months old. Such a precious memory. Matt even played baseball in high school. We rejoice in all that he has been able to do physically as well as in all that people have done to help him overcome the challenges presented by his body.
The World Is Not Right
Yet, we also clearly understand what cannot be done for him. We cannot give him a new left leg and foot with all the bones and proper development. Oh, how we wish we could! We would give up our own bones in a heartbeat so that he could have them. But, alas, we can’t make the situation right in that way.
You see, none of the good that has been done removes the sense of loss we feel for him regarding what cannot be done. In other words, we have hopes for his earthly life that can and are being realized, and for that we are very grateful. But we have no hope for true physical wholeness for him on this planet. That isn’t available to him, or to anyone for that matter, in this life. It awaits in the next.
The world is not right and there are some things we can’t resolve:
- Hurricanes tear through the Gulf of Mexico and flood multiple states. We know they are coming. We prepare for them, but we can’t stop them.
- We create laws to stop racism and protest when it happens, but it still lingers in the hearts of people.
- We organize our house and care for our lawn, but the laundry piles up and drought and grubs turn the grass brown.
- We bombard cancer with chemotherapy and radiation, but it returns to grow until it overtakes life.
- We try to keep the winter salt off the car but rust invariably develops causing a breakdown.
Humanity continues to strive for utopia, but original sin makes it impossible to achieve. Just like no one can get eggs out of a cake that has been baked, no one can get the sin out of us and the world; no one, that is, except Jesus.
All Things New
The good news about the Lord is that He has promised to return to earth to right all that is wrong with this world. He is not just interested in justice and purity. He is determined to usher in glory. The Apostle John saw a vision of the Lord doing just that and recorded it in Revelation 21. About this promise, Jesus said,
“Behold, I am making all things new. Write this down for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5)
Jesus is going to make everything new. Forty days after His resurrection, He ascended into heaven. At an unknown time in the future, He will descend from heaven in the same form and in the same way that He left. After He returns, He will continue His work of making everything new by giving Christians new bodies, patterned after His resurrection body.
Whereas our current bodies are flawed, weak, natural, sinful, and perishable, our new bodies will be like His – complete, invulnerable, spiritual, holy, and immortal. With the same power He used to raise himself from the dead, He will raise you, Christian. He’s not going to enter your grave and perform CPR to reanimate your old body. He’s going to transform your current one, whether it is alive or dead when He returns, into a glorified one.
Then, with the same power Jesus used to create the cosmos, He is going to create a new glorified world. Since the Scripture is silent on the scope of the change, we don’t know if He plans to resurrect the entire universe, just the Milky Way, or simply our solar system. It is difficult to have certainty on how pervasive sin is and how thoroughly it has corrupted what God has made.
What we do know is that the world that we currently experience will be transformed such that all the effects of original sin will be overcome. Jesus will eliminate the presence of sin, setting the creation itself free from its bondage to corruption. And the results will be astounding. Disease will end and everlasting health will begin. Disabilities will be made permanently whole. Discord will give way to constant harmony. Decay will reverse into perpetual growth. Tranquility will replace disorder and success will supplant disaster. Even death itself will die. Revelation 21:4 describes his return in this way:
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.
This is the gospel hope we have for our son Matt, ourselves, and everyone else: a New Heaven and a New Earth where righteousness dwells. Only Jesus, the Son of God, can create this eternal life. He is the only one who can save us from all that is currently wrong. He is the only Savior of sinners.
Editor’s Note: Get your copy of Always Good News: Why the Message of Jesus is Good Every Day by Scott Lothery this month for a gift of any amount. Also consider taking Scott’s course in Open the Bible for Leaders called Grasp the Gospel or hearing how Always Good News can encourage your whole church.