Last Sunday during his sermon, our pastor David said that someone had once made a remark to him which was startling. But true.
"For Christians, Earth is Hell."
I have had the same thought. Think about it!
It is here that we suffer anguish, fright, dread, worry, misery and grief.
It is here that we may be mistreated, hurt in body, wounded in spirit, challenged in ways that trouble us.
Here we lose, here we misbehave (sin) and shame ourselves (Christians have a conscience most of the time!), here we know despair and anxiety and face uncertainty which is almost the worst pain of all.
Tough as life on Earth can be for Christians, what a blessing that this is as bad as it gets!
Then - Paradise!
Beyond that thought I got to musing about how we cope as we struggle through this "vale of tears." I realized that the people we are linked to (not by fluke or by accident, but through the design of God with lofty purpose), our families,, our closest friends, should be sources of comfort, inspiration and encouragement to us. With those special (truly very few) people we should be especially kind, loyal and patient. God attached them to our lives to soothe us and nudge us toward better behavior and by the same token we are entrusted to be merciful toward them.
In my life I see that the familiarity of being close also makes us "comfortable" about being mean, rude or downright taking advantage of those closest individuals. Yes, I am thinking of my own misdeeds. It is so easy to take loved ones for granted! Worse than that - to target them for the slings and arrows of our harshest criticism!
This year we gave our three sons copies of "Sweet and Low" for Father's day simply because Randall recommends it and I thought it would be a good read for those three business-oriented guys. Haven't read it myself, but ironically it describes the back-biting, greed and ruthless actions within the family which created that product. The achievement of astonishing wealth seems to have been a catalyst for the destruction of an entire family (surprise, surprise).
Maybe we all should be grateful that we don't have vast family fortunes to squabble over!