Sunday, May 27, 2018

Must We Suffer To Achieve Heaven?

Life can be so pleasurable sometimes that we forget about pain and suffering altogether. And when it is that good, it's normal to ask God, or Providence, why it can't always be that way. Maybe you've had many days, or months, like that; which made you wonder if you finally had achieved a permanent state of bliss. Most of us know it cannot last for very long.  

All adults know that suffering is an inescapable part of life, but we've probably never known anyone who is really comfortable with that fact. True masochists - who enjoy pain - are very rare. Which is why we wish we had money, or power, or status that would insulate us against suffering. But wealth, power, or status can't guarantee us or our loved ones that we won't get cancer, dementia, or some other incurable physical or mental disease. On top of which, most wealthy people hate the loss of privacy they have to endure, and the haranguing relatives or associates begging for loans. You might also be kidnapped and held for ransom in many countries. In any case, we eventually age and then die in this world. But not in the next (more about this later). 

Suffering is built into the material world. Darwin was certainly right about "the survival of the fittest." Strength and agility endure, for a time. The loving God of Scripture doesn't appear to be active in the jungles or plains of this world. Alfred Lord Tennyson noticed this and it deeply troubled him, so he wrote,

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law
Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed

The universe is a deadly and dangerous place outside of earth's atmosphere, where stars and planets and galaxies are forged in fiery, million-degree, lethal gamma ray furnaces. Now astrophysicists are certain that life like ours is extraordinarily rare in the cosmos. 

Is a brief and painful life, then death, all there is? Face it, the world is not enough to satisfy our yearnings. Were we made for something better? Yes. 

  Our lives are immeasurably enhanced by having faith in a good and just God.