This year’s freshman class at Westminster Christian Academy is appropriately studying the Westminster Shorter Catechism; not simply memorizing questions and answers, but going deeper into what each question means, where we see it in Scripture and how this applies to our lives as we actively live out the Word of God.
The students’ most recent exam covered Catechism Question 19: What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell? Answer: All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.
When I grade tests it is always encouraging to see students beginning to understand what we’ve been studying. Every so often though the wording a of student’s answer really catches my attention. While many of the students gave great answers, this time it was Harriet Reymond’s answer that was worded in a such a thoughtful way.
The question was asked, “What is the difference between the experience of believers and unbelievers in this life? At death?” Harriet answered, “All of the pain in this world is the closest we will ever get to hell and all of the happiness in this world is the closest that unbelievers will ever get to heaven. In death we have God to comfort us, but unbelievers are scared of death.”
This explanation puts all the trials God brings us into proper perspective. Our pains are very real, whether it’s emotional hurt, sadness from loss, physical pain, even the real prospect of death. Yet as miserable as these are in our lives they are certainly the worst believers will ever face because of the gift of faith Christ so graciously gives us. Instead we will spend eternity in the presence of Jesus Christ. Today as we celebrate Thanksgiving I am certainly thankful for the truthfulness of Harriet’s answer.