I like to subscribe to certain Christian newsletters so I can receive a dosage of encouragement in my inbox every so often, God willing and Godly-appointed. Yesterday I received a timely message. One that I wish to share with you. Not my words, but an author. It is an excerpt from a book entitled “The Soul” by J.P. Moreland. I hope it encourages you as it did to me…
The cartoon character Charlie Brown once said, “I’ve developed a new philosophy of life. I only dread one day at a time.” Archibald Hart explains how many of us adopt this stance: “All of life is loss. . . . Life is all about loss. Necessary loss.” In point of fact, in this life we experience three kinds of losses. First, we often suffer the natural consequences of our own bad choices. We lose a job, a marriage, friends, health, and much more. And these losses stay with us. They are hard to shake.
Second, we suffer losses due to the fact that we live in a fallen, imperfect world. We grow old, lose our eyesight, our physical attractiveness (such as it may be!), athletic ability, loved ones due to death, our children to marriage, our sexual potency, and so forth. We discover that our marriage, career, and overall life satisfaction isn’t what we hoped it would be. And as we age, we realize that many of our dreams will never come to pass.
Finally, there are several forms of injustice we all suffer that are never made right. From friends who gossip about us to bosses who bully us, to more severe crimes committed against us, the injustices of this life are not balanced and the harm done to us not completely healed.
This is where heaven becomes so very important. As Hart points out, a major problem with losses of various kinds is that we are over-attached—please note, I say over-attached—to this life and the things it offers: reputation, safety, our possessions, people who meet our deepest needs. Psychologists tell us that we need to have daily hope and optimism in life, and that such optimism must be rationally based so it isn’t just a form of denial or a fantasy world out of touch with reality. In my view, to do this, we need to be able to place our losses—indeed, our entire, brief lives with all their attendant ups and downs—into the context of a broader, true, objectively meaningful picture. If we can do this, we can break our over-attachment to this life. The rational hope of heaven as the Bible presents it is just the sort of background belief one needs to navigate day-to-day life appropriately and with a proper perspective in assessing what it brings our way. And heaven gives us the rational hope that the injustices and other losses will, in fact, be made right.
This is no small deal. It’s actually an essential perspective for living life well each day in God’s kingdom. It’s kind of ironic, really. People claim that the belief in heaven robs people of the value of life on this earth. But it’s really just the opposite.
J.P. Moreland, “The Soul”