Will Phoebe have Down's Syndrome in heaven?
It seems even too trite to write a blog post such as this but at our dinner table the other night my 6 year old son asked the question. In January 2015 our third child Phoebe was born and, as a complete surprise to us, Phoebe has Down's Syndrome. The last year has been, and continues to be, an enormous roller coaster full of joy and sorrow too.
One of the things my wife and I have struggled with is that we know that God has brought Phoebe into our lives. Her Down's Syndrome, although a surprise to us, was no surprise to her Heavenly Father; she is fearfully and wonderfully made. However, we also have to recognise that her Down's Syndrome is a result of the fall.
So my 6 year old's question is a real one - in the new creation will Phoebe have Down's Syndrome? All will be made new, there will be no more suffering, no more pain. As I've tried to think this through theologically, it seems to me that in the new creation Phoebe will be Phoebe but she will be different, just as I will still be Levy but I will be different.
I cannot understand this, I cannot grasp this, but what I do know is that the pang of sadness I feel when I sometimes think about Phoebe's future will be removed and the pangs of sadness in my own life will be removed too. Phoebe will be as she was meant to be, as I will.
Give me the text and verse you might say? I can't. I could go to Revelation 20:1-4 but that might not convince you. The answer to my 6 year old son has to be a theological construct!! For those lunatics who say you don't need systematic theology just come and speak to a 6 year old.
The Westminster Shorter catechism is such a help to us pastorally here....
Q. 11. What are God's works of providence?
A. God's works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.
Q. 38. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A. At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.
As I hold both these truths in tension I can love Phoebe as a gift from my gracious Father and look forward to that day when Christ will come and all effects of the fall will be eradicated.
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