Thus far, I’ve had two careers: one as a surgical nurse; one as a pastor. Both have been tremendously rewarding. Both have also given me a front row seat to human suffering.
For believers, the Bible teaches us that our sufferings in this life will fade like a bad dream as we enter into an eternity without pain, injustice, fear of death, or long separations from those we love.
Here’s an important verse that communicates that idea:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.2 Corinthians 4:16-18
This is not escapism. This is not making light of our suffering. This is putting it in perspective. And countless Christians have found it tremendously encouraging.
In C.S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair, the main characters have a terrible mission–to try to find and free, if they can, a long lost Prince. None who have dared to attempt to find him have returned. Their quest takes them underground–into suffocating tunnels and caves full of darkness and terror. This underworld is ruled by a horrible witch who has imprisoned the Prince and enslaved countless minions by her wicked enchantments.
When the heroes finally emerge from this hellish place, they are surprised how quickly it all seemed a dream. They were back where they belonged–above the ground. Now, with a rescued prince, knowledge that they’ve liberated enslaved peoples, thwarted a war, and secured righteous government for Narnia for the foreseeable future–glories that far outweigh their sufferings.
Take heart, my friends.
[They had been out of the caves] only ten minutes! Yet already it felt to Jill and Eustace as if all their dangers in the dark and heat and general smotheriness of the earth must have been only a dream. Out here, in the cold, with the moon and the huge stars overhead (Narnian stars are nearer than stars in our world) and with the kind, merry faces all round them, one couldn’t quite believe in Underland.C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, 197.