“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
This world in which we live dominates our lives. Our strength and courage are consumed by worry and doubt. We worry because we or our loved ones are in such pain and suffering. It’s all too real and unpleasant. Because of this many lose heart. They get angry with God and accuse Him of cruelty, of punishing innocent people, especially children and infants. They want to know if God is so loving why does He allow such suffering. Good question, one for which we have no answer, at least not a specific, detailed one. That general answer is: because of sin. The sin we read about in Genesis 3. The sin we all inherit without exception.
God alone knows the specific reasons for our suffering. He uses it to draw us closer to Him, to depend and rely on Him. That should satisfy and encourage us, but it doesn’t. One reason may lie in our cultural attitudes toward life and death which leave God and faith out of consideration. Without God, life is filled with despair. Death seems often to be a pointless waste that calls into question everything we have done in our lives, all that we have ever hoped for as well as all the physical suffering we have endured. If death is the end, then what was the value and purpose of all we did and experienced? People make up their own meaning and purpose for life based on cultural values or philosophical and religious systems but these all tend to fall apart in the face of suffering and death.
Saint Paul, however, gives us real hope. He tells us that our faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sin gives purpose to our lives. And that same faith tells us that all the pain and afflictions, sorrow and loss we endure seem, in the light of eternity, as nothing. What we hold on to so dearly is vulnerable, weak and susceptible to dangers of all sorts. Eternal life is like a building that is strong, beautiful and permanent. When we die, we lose the tent but we are left homeless. The tent, our body we call home now, will be destroyed only to be replaced by our heavenly home, our glorified body, infinitely superior to what we cherish so strongly now. Therefore we can persevere by God’s grace knowing that we will live forever in glory.