Why I Feel Fairly Confident I’ll See My Dead Dog Again: Reflections on Pets and Resurrection

Why I believe there will be pets in the afterlife

As many of you know, I lost my precious dog Narnia over a week ago.

The outpouring of love and understanding I received was both surprising and soothing. For some reason, I didn’t realize there were so many people out there who would understand my intense grief over losing a pet. (On that note, I want to say thank-you. Thanks so much, everyone, for being so wonderful and understanding. Your words of sympathy truly aided in my healing.)

I never quite realized just how deeply you could love a member of a different species until I adopted my precious Narnia.

narnia puppyNarnia, when we adopted her. Oh, my heart . . .

She was a huge pain in the butt, in all honesty. She barked way too much and she shed her white fur all over the place. She had an annoying habit of hanging out right under your feet and then skittering away every time you made a move. She ate underwear. She hated baths. She was bad with kids (except for Lydia). And it was impossible to keep Lydia out of her food dish.

But oh, I loved that darling little pup. She was a great cuddler. She loved to sit on my lap, and could stay there for hours if I would let her.  She loved the smell of tears, and eagerly licked them up when I was sad.

She was so playful. She was so tiny (she weighed about 6 pounds) I could play fetch with her indoors, which she wanted to do every single day until the day she died.

Losing her was utter agony. The house has felt so empty since we lost her. No familiar yapping every time the doorbell rings. No one nudging my leg with a plush bone when I sit down in front of the computer.

I’m so sad that Lydia won’t remember Narnia when she’s older. I can’t bear the thought of our family spending the rest of our lives without a dog in the house, but I also can’t imagine replacing her. We’re a dog family. But no, that’s not right. What we are is a Narnia family. I don’t want any other dog. I want Narnia.

Anyway, I mentioned on Facebook that since my beloved pet happened to pass away during the same month I was reading N. T. Wright’s book on resurrection (Surprised by Hope), I naturally began to reflect on the possibility of animals being resurrected in the new earth.

Osheta responded by sharing a link to a sermon by Jonathan Martin, in which he addresses this very question. (The sermon is entitled “Nor Things to Come,” and he starts to talk about pets and the resurrection around 8:00).

I was so blessed by the ideas Martin shares here, that I thought I’d pass them along.

I think he’s right. I think God will resurrect our beloved pets in the life that is to come.

Do I sound crazy? Here are some thoughts.

(Note: I am writing all this based on the assumption that God will, at the end of this age, restore ALL of Creation to its former glory. Instead of whisking our souls off to some disembodied heaven and destroying the material world, I believe God intends to bring heaven to earth, restoring and transforming our physical bodies right here, as he did Christ’s on Easter. If you’re interested in this subject, I highly recommend N. T Wright’s remarkable Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church.)

(A second note: This understanding of eschatology circumvents the question of whether or not animals have souls, because a soul is not necessarily imperative in a restored physical earth.)

Why I Believe We Will See Our Pets Again

Scripture seems to suggest that there will be animals in the new earth.

Isaiah 11, for example, describes the wolf and the lamb living together, the leopard lying down with the goat, the cow eating with the bear. (I love the suggestion that they will all be vegetarians, too.)

Animals are a part of God’s good creation.

As Martin points out, God created them because he delights in them, and he wants us to delight in them. Surely they will be a part of the restored earth. Romans 8 tells us that all of Creation waits for the day it will be “liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” (verse 21).

The Bible is full of language that says animals praise God.

I’ve always loved the line in Psalm 150 that says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” I love that image: the birds sing, the dogs bark, the goats bleat; all of this is a song of praise to the Lord, which brings him delight. I believe this will continue in the life that is to come.

God likes to give good gifts to his children.

Martin encourages us to ask ourselves an important question when it comes to matters like these: What is God like? What does the heart of God look like?

Jesus describes God as a Father who likes to give good gifts to his children. Matthew 7:11 reads, “If you, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

I think this is relevant to the question of our pets.

Many of us love and have loved certain animals with all our hearts. As Martin argues: if you love your pets, why wouldn’t God want you to have them in the restored earth? “That just sounds like something God would do,” he argues.

And I agree. That does sound like the God I serve.

* * *

Will there be Pets in Heaven? Reflections on the ResurrectionYesterday Lydia was eating in her high chair when she dropped a piece of chicken onto the floor. Normally, Narnia would be there to clean that up for us. When Narnia didn’t show up, Lydia declared, “Narnia take a nap.”

And I was able to smile sadly, and say with confidence, “Yeah. Narnia’s taking a looooong nap.”

Someday, she’ll wake up and be with us again.

What do you think? Do you expect to see pets in the future life?

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