I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on how we choose our attitudes – as I read in a novel recently: “…the thought struck him that what a man allowed into his heart was a matter of choice” (The Smoke Jumper, by Nicholas Evans). For example, instead of bitterness and unforgiveness, will we choose to forgive and choose ‘non-remembrance’ of how we’ve been wronged? Instead of becoming self-centred and depressed when life seems hard, will we choose life? For the Christian, this isn’t just a matter of positive thinking. It’s a conscious decision to trust in God’s love and grace rather than listening to the devil’s accusations and lies. It’s hard. It would be so much easier to just wallow in self-pity, something I do all too easily, even though I know my suffering is nothing compared to others’ and even though I know that these troubles are ‘light and momentary’ compared to the wonders awaiting us in heaven.
The thing is, to choose life we have to know why life is worth choosing! And that’s where I get a bit stuck. I know heaven is ahead and it’s going to be wonderful. So why do we have to suffer this life first? I’m lucky – there’s lots of things in my life to enjoy, but why carry on with the partial enjoyments of this life when heaven is going to be so much better? What is our purpose in living? If it’s to glorify God, won’t we do that so much better in heaven? I just don’t quite get it. I can carry on with this life, enjoy it, learn from it, change and grow…but then when I get to heaven I’ll be made perfect anyhow, so what was the point? I know we are called to be witnesses, which I can see would give purpose to life, but then how about those of us in jobs working mostly with Christians that involve hardly any opportunity for sharing one’s faith? What’s the point in enjoying a good book or even enjoying a walk in God’s amazing creation, if our only purpose in life is to bring others to faith?
So why choose life? God didn’t make the world to be a place of suffering, He grieves over it. I know that He is waiting that more might be saved before bringing an end to this world – but the longer he waits, the more babies will be born and so the list of those who won’t be saved grows ever bigger, alongside of those who will. So, why? Why do we have to live this life of suffering first, before going to heaven? It hurts here on earth.
I’m not sure I have an answer to this, but I am starting to think that I have got the question wrong. The point is, we have been put in this world and we have no choice but to be here. Suicide isn’t an option. Instead of asking why should I live this life, I should be asking how will I live this life?
I challenge us all to choose life (Deut. 30:19-20). Even though it’s hard, let’s be intentional in our thinking and actions and make continual conscious decisions to live life to the full in Christ, trusting God to help us, knowing that He will be enough for us each day.