It is said that God can bring good out of evil, but that’s not quite true. Evil in itself cannot be the cause of good, even by divine arrangement. God can use the occasion of misfortune to work some good in the universe, but it is the good He adds to the occasion that is the true cause of subsequent goods, not evil itself. If we are loyal to God, we can expect misfortune. God’s providential care of us means that He will give us the opportunity to learn needed lessons and inculcate needed virtues through the occasion of these misfortunes. However, we will only benefit from these opportunities if we consciously choose to recognize them and see circumstances in this light. Suffering, deprivation, and fear in themselves will not make us more virtuous. In fact, we can expect that the Enemy who deals these out will calculate his afflictions to be those most likely to inspire discouragement and resentment. No improvement will come to us without our consciously recognizing the goods God is offering and deliberately participating in their actualization. Still, I have find a real comfort knowing that God is also calculating, that He will provide opportunities for our spiritual benefit in everything the Enemy will do to us.
Of course, we must have true and not false hope. We shouldn’t expect that these spiritual benefits will ever translate into future temporal success, e.g. that the suffering of the Church Militant will cause her to get her act together and inspire a future religious revival. In the order of this world, God’s side will never know anything but humiliating defeat after humiliating defeat. The Satanic Left is invincibly triumphant, and nothing will stop the totalitarian hell it is constructing. Whether we are exposed and ostracized or manage to squeak out our lives in hiding, we will suffer a nightmarish isolation from our fellow men, and this will be relieved only by death. But we as individuals may gain in endurance and resignation to our own sufferings and in tender love for Christ’s helpless Bride.
I used to share the popular belief that there could be a Christianity that de-emphasizes the next life, that a Christianity ordered primarily toward spiritual goods in this life might actually be “purer”. I no longer think that, and it is clear that serious Christians of all past ages put their hope not in moral improvement, not in social justice on Earth, but in being with God in Heaven. I’ve come to suspect that these Christians who want us to put our hopes in this world are thinking to cut a deal with its Prince.
On the other hand, I’m unable to be comforted by the thought that what happens to my soul is the only thing that matters, and that the Enemy can’t control that. The Enemy also has designs on my daughters, and enormous resources with which to ensnare them. This terrifies me, and I know it’s bad theology, but I can’t imagine being happy in Heaven with them in the other place. I can, however, imagine that if I were to wake up in Heaven and find my family and my good friends–and while I’m fantasizing why not include my Orthosphere comrades here–there with me, welcomed into eternal communion with our Lord, Jesus Christ, then the thought of the world going to hell wouldn’t bother me overmuch.
I have long struggled with an inability to believe in the afterlife, but I find that most of my prayers now are for my salvation and the salvation of those close to me. My hopes are more and more focused on a Heaven in which I can hardly believe, because there is nothing else to hope in.
The last years have been a brutal education in the futility of hope in this world. The Christians of all past ages thought that the appropriate attitude toward this world is scorn, and they were right.