When I was in college I had a professor who asked why would God need to wipe away every tear from our eyes in heaven? I had never thought about it before. My assumption when she asked was that it would just be the residue of all the tears I had ever cried on earth. She said she thought the tears would be more present than that–tears of regret there at the beginning of eternity as we looked back on our lives. And that God would wipe away all of those tears as we entered His presence.
Well, I still don’t have a definitive theology on what what tears God will be wiping away from my eyes. But I did find it interesting recently to read this article by John Piper, which addresses the issue of regret in Heaven: Suffering, Mercy and Heavenly Regret. Although I have no confident answers on the topic, I’m glad for the questions the article raises in my mind.
The part that does resonate with me is that my present experience of eternal joy (meaning the joy of the Lord that I experience in part now, but trust will be completed and perfected in Heaven) is highly intertwined with and grows out of the context of my sin, pain, suffering and failures on this earth. I can see how the joy of the Lord can take the edges off of regrets, even here on earth. But could it be some of the opposite as well–that the regret is what makes the joy so rich and full? And will that also be true in Heaven? I don’t know, but I’d love to dialogue abut this topic with you.