If you can't dance and you long to dance, in the resurrection you'll dance perfectly. If you're lonely, in the resurrection you will have perfect love. If you're empty, in the resurrection you will be fully satisfied. Ordinary life is what's going to be redeemed. There is nothing better than ordinary life, except that it's always going away and falling apart. Ordinary life is food and work and chairs by the fire and hugs and dancing and mountains - this world. God loves it so much that he gave his only Son so we - and the rest of this ordinary world - could be redeemed and made perfect. And that's what is in store for us.
And if you know that this is not the only world, the only body, the only life you are ever going to have - that you will someday have a perfect life - who cares what people do to you? You're free from ultimate anxieties in this life, so you can be brave and take risks. You can face the worst thing, even life in a wheelchair, with joy, with hope. The resurrection means we can look forward with hope to the day our suffering will be gone. But it even means that we can look forward with hope to the day our suffering will be glorious. When Jesus shows the disciples his hands and feet, he is showing them his scars. The last time the disciples saw Jesus, they thought those scars were ruining their lives. The disciples had thought they were on a presidential campaign. They thought their candidate was going to win and that they were going to be in the cabinet, and when they saw the nails going into the hands and feet and the spear going into the side, they believed those wounds had destroyed their lives. And now Jesus is showing them that in his resurrected body his scars are still there.
Why is this important? Because now that they understand the scars, the sight and memory of them will increase the glory and joy for the rest of their lives. Seeing Jesus Christ with his scars reminds them of what they did for them - that the scars they thought had ruined their lives actually saved their lives. Remembering those scars will help many of them endure their own crucifixions.
On the Day of the Lord - the day when God makes everything right, the day that everything sad comes untrue - on that day the same thing will happen to your own hurts and sadness. You will find that the worst things that have ever happened to you will in the end only enhance your eternal delight. On that day, all of it will be turned inside out and you will know joy beyond the walls of the world. The joy of your glory will be that much greater for every scar you bear.
So live in the light of the resurrection and renewal of this world, and of yourself, in a glorious, never-ending, joyful dance of grace. (Pages 223-225)
Keller's words hearken back to C. S. Lewis' words in The Great Divorce:
[Some mortals] say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it," not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.
The opposite is true as well. For those who are in Christ Jesus by grace through faith, all things happy will become true! All the unfulfilled, intense longings and desires we experience in this life for joy, happiness, and satisfaction will be quenched beyond what we could ever ask or imagine in the life to come because we will be married to our great and glorious and perfect and most beautiful and most loving and most satisfying Spouse - The Lord Jesus Christ! This is good news indeed for the Christian!
John Piper confirms this truth with his comments on Romans 8:37: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."
Explaining what it means to be more than a conqueror, Piper writes:
If you venture some act of obedience that magnifies the supreme value of Jesus Christ and get attacked by one of the enemies mentioned in verse 35, say, famine or sword, what must happen for you to be called simply “a conqueror”? Answer: You must not be separated from the love of Jesus Christ. The aim of the attacker is to destroy you, and cut you off from Christ, and bring you to final ruin without God. You are a conqueror if you defeat this aim and remain in the love of Christ. God has promised that this will happen. Trusting this, we risk.
But what must happen in this conflict with famine and sword if you are to be called more than a conqueror? One biblical answer is that a conqueror defeats his enemy, but one who is more than a conqueror subjugates his enemy. A conqueror nullifies the purpose of his enemy; one who is more than a conqueror makes the enemy serve his own purposes. A conqueror strikes down his foe; one who is more than a conqueror makes his foe his slave.
Practically what does this mean? Let’s use Paul’s own words in 2 Corinthians 4:17: “This slight momentary affliction is preparing [effecting, or working, or bringing about] for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” Here we could say that “affliction” is one of the attacking enemies. What has happened in Paul’s conflict with it? It has certainly not separated him from the love of Christ. But even more, it has been taken captive, so to speak. It has been enslaved and made to serve Paul’s everlasting joy. “Affliction,” the former enemy, is now working for Paul. It is preparing for Paul “an eternal weight of glory.” His enemy is now his slave. He has not only conquered his enemy. He has more than conquered him.
Affliction raised his sword to cut off the head of Paul’s faith. But instead the hand of faith snatched the arm of affliction and forced it to cut off part of Paul’s worldliness. Affliction is made the servant of godliness and humility and love. Satan meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. The enemy became Paul’s slave and worked for him an even greater weight of glory than he would have ever had without the fight. In that way Paul—and every follower of Christ—is more than a conqueror.
John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton: Crossway, 2003), pp. 96-97.
Hear the good news from God Himself!
Isaiah 65:17-19: For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.
Romans 8:18: For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Revelation 21:3-6: 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." And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment."
ALL OF THIS IS TRUE ONLY BECAUSE ON THAT DREADED, GLORIOUS CROSS, EVERYTHING SAD BECAME TRUE FOR JESUS CHRIST, AND EVERYTHING HAPPY BECAME UNTRUE FOR HIM AS WELL - HE BORE THE WRATH OF HIS FATHER - GOD FORSAKEN BY GOD. BUT THE SADNESS WOULD NOT LAST, DEATH COULDN'T STOP HIM, AND THE GRAVE COULDN'T HOLD HIM! AND NOW, IN HIM, ALL SADNESS'S WILL BE GONE AND ALL HAPPINESS'S WILL BE TRUE FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER! PRAISE BE TO GOD!
Note: The phrase "everything sad becoming untrue" comes from the J.R.R. Tolkien book The Lord Of The Rings