For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
– Romans 8:18
1.5 seconds. That’s about how long it takes to go from the top of Disney World’s Splash Mountain to its bottom. In 2014, my wife, brother-in-law, and I all decided to ride it. Typically I draw the line with rides like Splash Mountain. I really hate that sensation of the sudden drop roller coasters give you and thought even Splash Mountain would come close to messing with me. But after passing on the Tower of Terror, I had to salvage some measure of bravado. So, I rode it. While in line for 45 minutes, dreading the big drop—50 feet at 40 mph—I calculated a rough estimate of how long the drop would last and was stunned. It was a jarring realization after so long dwelling in anxiety over it. Truth be told, while on the ride it was the smaller drops that were more bothersome. The big one was over before I could even process it fully. 1.5 seconds was nothing compared to the hours of fun we had at the park.
What’s the significance of my trip anecdote? Simply that it’s a nice metaphor for life now. In the grand scheme of our existence promised, life in the world as we know it is nothing. It’s a blip. Over before it’s even fully comprehensible. But life after death, that’s vast. There are a number of people who can’t understand why God would allow us to make the choice of what our eternal destiny is based upon such a marginal portion of our existence. I’d suggest I’ve addressed this topic before, as have many others over the centuries, but to be brief, it’s our proving ground.
If you can accept the Genesis account of Creation as truth for a moment, the scenario at the fall of man was this: God gave man one definitive rule: DO NOT eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Man had unmitigated access to God. He knew God is real. He could see Him daily, talk directly with Him, and enjoyed a relationship we dream about. Moreover, he had eternal life. He would never die, become ill, etc. So essentially he had what is promised to us in Heaven. Adam and Eve threw it away with both hands. Having everything plainly before them they did the one thing God explicitly told them not to do and defied God’s right to rule.
Now, we have the reversal of their situation. We can’t see God as they did, know Him as they did, our lives are fleeting, and suffering is all around us. There is one thing God tells us to DO: accept His forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Partake the offered fruit. In that act lies the reversal of Adam and Eve’s rebellion. It requires a yielding to God, restoring Him to the rightful place in our lives. Doing so brings restoration of relationship and I believe it is precisely our choosing Him when things are at the most difficult that proves us likely to be faithful when all is stripped away and we see Him as He was and is and will always be.
So, we can fret over the briefest and admittedly tumultuous, period of our existence, or we can endure it. Get through it on the hope that something better awaits because we’ve entrusted ourselves to the God Who crafted us for more than this life. Life is replete with examples of brief suffering giving way to much greater joy: labor in child birth, nightmares and the waking world, and even big drops on amusement park rides. I assure you, I bear no memory of the drop at Splash Mountain, but I do recall all the fun I had thereafter. Remember, your endurance will be worth it in the time after this world, which goes ever on.