"Think about how good it will feel when it stops hurting", said my father. I received this advice from Dad often while I was growing up, usually after some minor bump or scrape had resulted in a major dramatic reaction. At the time, the advice didn't help. I was incapable of focusing on anything other than my pain, and loud wails accompanied by buckets of tears seemed the only appropriate response. Through the years, however, Dad's advice has pulled me through some truly miserable situations. Whether it was the pain of a broken heart or the misery of a drawn-out illness, I would remind myself: Now is not forever.
The confidence we have as Christians is that God has something good planned for us. Suffering was not part of His original act of creation, but it serves as a temporary reminder of what happens in a world where God's order has been broken. It also motivates us to spread the word about God's plan to redeem the world from the suffering caused by sin. Although we cannot avoid pain and disappointment (John 16:33), we know that it's only temporary. Some sorrow will be relieved in this life, but all of it will be relieved when God finally and firmly establishes His new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:1). Now is not forever. The gains of heaven will more than compensate for the losses of earth.