ON SUFFERING AND OUR ETERNAL REWARD

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Willem IV- It may be very hard to see, but a loving and all-powerful God leads us down a path we ourselves would choose if we only knew the arc of our entire history and the true nature, scope, and possibilities of our eternal destiny, which is shaped so much by what we do and endure in this short life.

The necessity of these experiences, good and bad, happiness and suffering, pleasure and pain, in terms of our eternal pathway and destiny cannot be fathomed in this life.

God does know what our eternal soul needs and must be shaped and formed by in ways we will not understand until we see Him face to face. If we fix our hearts and gaze on eternity and on our Creator, and if we have faith in His wisdom in plotting our course and experiences, we would see that “all things work together for the good of those who love God and are the called according to His purpose.”

And by “the good” we mean a good that is beyond the temporal, a good that is forever but that cannot be obtained except through the paths He lays before us.

Some may say, “if God was loving, He wouldn’t need to use suffering to shape us in any way!” But you assume that is the way things can be, you do not have faith that “He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

The truth is that suffering “must needs come”, in this life, and God has said it. God cannot lie and God is love. When we realize how truly miniscule this temporal existence is compared to eternity,  when we see how light even the very worse and most horrible affiliation in this life is in comparison to the reward, we may see that we really have zero reasons to complain.

As to suffering, God has endured more than we could barely in the slightest endure or know. If God did not even spare His own Son from suffering, but loved Him and loved us, then how do we say “if God loved us He would not allow ANY suffering?”

I take it as an article of faith that if it was possible to shape us and prepare us for eternity without any suffering, that God would not allow any suffering. Therefore, since He does allow suffering, I take it as a necessity that I being a finite mortal being cannot comprehend.

It SEEMS simple that a God who is all-powerful could create a universe without any suffering. But as God is real and God is a rewarder of those who love Him, and as suffering does exist in this life, but not in eternity, then there is no question to me as to its necessity even if I do not understand WHY it is necessary.

The question I had to resolve as I grappled with this classic question on why suffering was even allowed by a loving God was: is God real and does He reign? Then I asked, “does He love me and His Creation?”

Once I became convinced He was real, that He loves me, which I have felt and seen in ways I cannot present to you or explain, then I saw that if God allows it, then it is good, even if in my finite and mortal being it looks and feels awful.

Watching a loved one die, being faslely accused and ruined financially, being extremely violated in horrible ways, and even being murdered in a terrible and agonizing ordeal, are all things even those who love God suffer in this transient mortal coil, which we shed in due time and which, while it shapes us, is forgotten as it were.

We have to realize that God Himself endures and bears this suffering with all of us. From the gas chambers of the Third Reich to the abusive parents one may endure today, from the victim of rape, to the sufferers of dementia or cancer, God experiences and endures all this Himself with us. He is touched by our every affliction and as bad as it feels, if He did not take it on with us, it would destroy our very soul for eternity.

It may be if we truly had a transcendent view of Creation and of our own existence, we would not even see our suffering in the same way, as something bad and awful, we would see it as something necessary, beneficial, and transfigurative for our eternal souls. It would seem rather like medicine than a “punishment.”

To get out of your own way and to see eternity operating in the here and now is supernatural and transfigurative. It is also possible to those who love God if they seek Him through the Word, through prayer and worship, and through fellowship and counsel with fellow Believers. Alignment of your existence in the day-to-day and how you spend your time with God and His Word begins a process of tearing down the veil between us and our Creator and reveals more and more of who He is and how much He loves us.

If you spend little time in His presence through things like reading the Word, prayer, worship, fellowship, and the mutual counsel of fellow Believers, then it is not a wonder that you struggle with such earthly questions about transient matters that will not matter in your eternity.

Those who dwell in Him do not have all the answers to things we cannot comprehend in this life, but they know His love and can live in that, come what may.

I know the suffering I even now endure, things that cause pain in my flesh, break my human heart, and peirce into my soul, are on a path I myself would have chosen, knowing the price I would pay, to get to where I wanted to be for eternity.

Imagine the person who loves God and experiences some brain ailment, like dementia, alzheimers, or some mental illness like depression or schizophrenia. They endure a period, perhaps years, where they cannot comprehend or interface with reality and it seems they have lost their faith. But this path, even this, they themselves would have chosen to get to their desired eternal destination. This is necessary for their eternal welfare and benefit.

I know that a loving God only allows such things because they are necessary in ways I cannot begin to fathom or explain, though I imagine in my simplistic way that a loving God would never have allowed them. I know He is and He loves me, therefore I know this is a necessity or it wouldn’t exist.

This may not be the answer you want to hear. I can only pray that you come into His presence and experience Him in your inner man, deep in your soul, outside of this temporal reality, outside of time and space itself.  Then you will have a focus on the eternal good instead of the transient things of this short and limited life that will pass quickly.

God is good and He rewards those who love and serve Him in ways that totally outshine any price you pay on the necessary path that leads you to your eternal fate! You either believe this or not, you either enter into His presence or you don’t. But no logical answer from any finite mortal being will satisfy your desire to understand that which it has not been given for us to understand!

Suffering and pain in this life, no matter how powerful and awful, are quite literally a nano-moment compared to eternity and the price we pay in this life, while necessary to shape us, is microscopic in comparison to the reward we gain.

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