By Matthew Nawrocki
Newberry Correctional Facility, Newberry, MI
Life here on earth can seem so complex sometimes. The question asked by all at some point in life, “what am I here for” lingers until answered. We all experience pain, and wonder its purpose. We wonder why it has to exist at all. Why is there so much pain? Why so much sorrow and suffering, hurt and loss? We can come to a point, and many do, when we think that ending life is the only way to escape what is inescapable. But what if that belief was to lead to the exact opposite result? What if, perhaps, it only led to an eternal and everlasting life of pain and sorrow?
As a culture we have turned and twisted the terms “eternal life” and “everlasting life.” We have used them as conditions that only the believer in Jesus will experience; and while it is true that the Scriptures refer to an eternal life with Christ, it is also true that the Scriptures refer to an eternal life without Christ. The Bible makes mention of such terms as “everlasting punishment” (Mt. 25:46), “outer darkness” (Mt. 8:12), “the blackness of darkness forever” (2 Pet. 2:17), and “everlasting destruction” (2 Thess. 1:9).
So, if the Scriptures are accurate, then trying to escape the sorrows of this life, by hoping for it to be over or ending it, actually only finalizes a life filled with pain; everlasting pain, punishment, and destruction. Life as we know it, physically, is not the whole story. We were created with an eternal nature that will, and I repeat, will, last forever.
So what if this life on earth is really just the “valley of decision” (Joel 3:14)? What if the pain serves a greater purpose? Clearly pain was not the intention of design from God. We see in the Genesis account of creation that His intent was life with Him, an intimacy where we walked and fellowshipped with Him “in the cool of the day” (Gen. 3:8). We know that what we live in and experience today is the result of sin, not God. Now, because God’s desire is relationship with His creation and it was broken by that sin, He made a way for us to come back to Him; to spend eternity with Him, not separated from Him. Thanks be to God for Jesus, the sacrificial lamb and offering for the sins of mankind! The reconciling has taken place, the opportunity for relationship and eternity with God a reality once again. But we have a choice. We must come in the way God has prepared for us. We must come by faith through the Son; He is the door, the only way to the Father. He has brought hope in the midst of what appears broken and hopeless.
So why the pain? Why didn’t Jesus take it away when He came and died for us? I pose this question once again: what if the pain serves a greater purpose? What if the groanings and yearnings we experience for freedom and perfection are only guiding us to the one way we can experience it forever? C.S. Lewis wrote that “pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Yet, we’ve become numb to the pain instead of awakened by it. We have let it have the reverse effect; causing us to despair and dig a hole, rather than hope and seek healing and freedom. Pain reminds us there is still a choice. We must answer the question it leads us to: will we run to Jesus as the only way to spend eternity where “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain…” (Rev. 21:4); or will we run away from Him, seeking to escape this life and ultimately choose a life with nothing but sorrow, crying, pain, and death?
Can we fail to consider the possibility of the Scriptures being accurate? Would we really be willing to “take our chances”? Those of you who are burdened with sorrow now, I ask you: could you endure, or even imagine a life of never ending sorrow, with no rest from pain, ever? As bad as your life may seem, regardless of the pain you currently feel, you still experience moments of hope; moments of light and joy, of peace and happiness, of love and grace and mercy. They may not be as often as you would prefer, but it does relieve the pain, and remind you it’s not all bad in this life. The genuine laughter of a child, the fragrance of a spring rain, a butterfly floating through the air, the sound of a waterfall or a flowing river; peaceful, tranquil, serene moments that help us to forget, if only temporarily, the pain and suffering we are currently facing in our lives. Now imagine eternity with none of that; no relief, no joy, no light whatsoever; only darkness, only sorrow, constant suffering…forever.
I beg of you, I plead with you, I implore you to consider where you would rather live for eternity and whether you can afford to, all too easily, brush it off as something you “just don’t believe in.” You will live forever, my friend, and pain and sorrow does not have to be your end. Receive the One whom God has sent, and live life forever with Him just as He meant.