So many of my friends and acquaintances are suffering right now with medical issues, financial, prodigals, marriage trouble and even depression. Life here on earth is tough. Contrary to what Hollywood, TV, and the culture will tell you, the goal of life is not to be beautiful and wealthy. Just a short examination of those people who are both of those things will reveal that they aren't truly happy.
Then what do I need to do to find happiness? Would you be surprised to know that your happiness here on earth is not the goal, that finding the perfect mate, the perfect job, and house, car, vacation, health is not the goal? Yet, so many of us strive daily for those things and are miserable when we don't get them. We blame God when we lose our job or our marriage fails or we get really sick, and we wonder if He loves us at all.
All the while, He's up in heaven, shaking His head, saying "You're missing the point!"
The point of course is that our 80 or so years here on earth are nothing but a test. Do we choose Jesus and paradise behind door number 1 or do we choose Satan and hell behind door number 2. There's only 2 choices. To NOT choose is to choose door number 2. If we end up choosing door number 1, then during our short lives, God can use us to help others choose that same door. It's that simple!
I struggled to get my college degree. I'm not a school person, plus I majored in Math, which was really really hard for me. I'm talking upper level Calculus and Combinatorics classes!! There were nights I stayed up all night doing Calculus problems or studying for tests. I rarely went out or had fun. I never took a break, even on weekends. I lost sleep, lost weight, and walked around like a zombie most of the time. If I had gone to my professors and complained. "It's just too hard! I'm so unhappy. I'm miserable. I work all the time. I never have fun. It's not fair!" They would have laughed me out of their office and told me to quit then. No sympathy. Why?
Because all that hard work was for a purpose. There was a prize at the end that would be worth all the suffering! My college degree! (And as a single Mom, I needed it to support my kids!) So, how did I get through 5 years of hard work and suffering? I kept my eyes on the prize! Whenever I took my eyes off of the end-game and only looked at my agony, I lost hope and wanted to quit. But when I remembered my goal, it gave me strength to go on.
It's much the same with the Christian Life. No one said it would be easy. We will suffer in this life. We will have times of need. We will get sick. We will have struggles with those we love. It's guaranteed! Can God help us through it? Absolutely. Just like my professors sat down with me when I needed help with particular math problems or understanding a concept, God can and will empower us to go on. Sometimes He even heals us and performs miracles to help us! (Awesome when that happens) But we still have to run the course. And the best way to do that is to keep your eyes on the Prize, Eternity in a place that is so much more wonderful than Earth, that our little minds can't comprehend!!! Eternity.. not 80 years.. but forever.
After Jeff Probst, the host on the TV Show Survivor, reveals the reward the contestants will win in the challenge, he always says "Worth playing for?"
YES YES YES!! Spending Eternity with God in Heaven is definitely worth playing for and worth any struggles and heartaches we have here. The key is to KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE!!
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18