When everything is going well we do not wonder about why we are here. It just seems obvious: to enjoy this wonderful life we have. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, God is on His throne and all seems right with the world. When we are in good health, surrounded by family and friends, enjoying our work and with no particular financial worries, it just seems a waste of time to ponder the purpose of life. But when disaster strikes or we become weary from bearing the many burdens of life, why we are here starts to become an interesting question. We then wonder if life is worth having if it is filled with suffering, heartache, sorrow and worry. If we are in that state of mind there is good news: we are close to truly becoming wise! Depression and discouragement are not a curse but a doorway, at least potentially, into a better life altogether, a life filled with immense purpose for every hour and every day!
We have heard, from the Bible and from those who proclaim its teachings that there is a wonderful life after this life if we trust in Christ’s saving grace. The Bible says that in the life to come, “there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain…” (Revelation 21:4) In fact, the joys of the future life the Bible promises are so far beyond what we experience here that they beggar description: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) Knowing and believing this brings great comfort to our souls. But again, we wonder why we have to live in this world when God has such a better one in store for us. Why do we have to wait for it?
In fact, come to think of it, why does God allow such a world as this one to exist? While it contains wonderful blessings, those blessings are interwoven with threads of the curse God brought upon the world after sin entered it. In fact, the blessings, wonderful as they are, can tend to heighten our experience of suffering when they disappear. As loved ones pass on, as the strengths of youth are replaced by the weaknesses of disease or old age, as the financial dial turns from sufficiency or even surplus to lack and poverty, the contrast with our former happiness deepens the sadness of present distress. To enjoy a blessing and then have it removed is sometimes a harder blow to bear than never to have known that blessing. So again, why has God put us in such a world as this one?
The answer from the Bible is that we live in a cursed world so that we may learn lessons that will prepare us and others to safely receive God’s unmixed blessings in eternity. What do I mean by “safely receive” God’s “unmixed blessings”? God created the angels morally and spiritually perfect, with the ability to freely choose between good and evil. They were in an ideal environment, free of any form of suffering, beholding the glory of God and the beauty of His wonderful creation. He gave them but one command: worship God only. This command was not because God was egotistical but because He loved the angels and wanted them to be whole and happy for eternity. Only God is absolutely and supremely good (Mark 10:18) and therefore only God can be safely worshiped. If we worship any creature we will destroy it. If we worship created things or beings, they will destroy us. (See Romans 1:18-32.) But one of the angels by the name of Lucifer (meaning, “morning star”), concluded that God was selfishly withholding from him the joy of being worshiped. (See Isaiah 14:12-14; Matthew 4:8-11) He therefore sinned and fell from the righteousness in which God originally created him. A third of the angels fell with him.
Why did Lucifer (whom we know as “Satan”, meaning “the adversary”) rebel against God’s command? He did so because he failed to trust God’ love. Exalted as God had made him, Lucifer still could not see God’s heart. To obey, Lucifer had to trust God that this prohibition was truly for his good. Only God is infinite in knowledge and wisdom and therefore only He can know what will ultimately be best for His creatures. Satan sinned through unbelief. So have we all, beginning with our first parents, Adam and Eve, who failed to trust God’s motive in forbidding to them the “fruit of the knowledge of good and evil”. They ended up assigning more value to a piece of fruit than to their relationship with God!
God could have placed us in a perfect environment as He did the fallen angels or our first parents, but would we have fared any better? No, not likely. Yes, it is true that in this far from perfect environment on earth, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Yet, having fallen from innocence through sin, God has made a way for us all to return to Him. And it should be of no surprise that that way involves faith. God has placed us in a world where faith is greatly tried and that is good. Faith will be flabby and weak if it is not tested in the fires of adversity. The strongest steel is that which has been repeatedly heated, hammered and then cooled. The muscles and reflexes of athletes are developed through exercise and training, not through lounging around and day-dreaming about winning! What we need to realize is that being in a perfect environment with nothing to trouble us is no guarantee that we will trust in God and do as He commands. In fact, it is a dangerous place to be. The danger is that we will, like Adam and Eve, value the gifts of God above the Giver Himself. Or, like the exalted cherub Lucifer, we will worship ourselves rather than God. On earth, we learn the hard lessons of faith, hope and love that will, by God’s grace, make us fit for a heavenly eternity. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13) That is why Paul says that our “momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) That is why Peter writes, “you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:6-7) So, you see, all the trials and difficulties and even the everyday common annoyances are not your enemies but friends by which you may learn to trust in God, hope in God and love Him above all. When you have been sufficiently trained, you will be entrusted with those blessings than can never fade, never decay and never be lost.