C. S. Lewis wrote “if you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it is not so bad.”
That quote reminded me of something that happens in our building from time to time. Periodically there is a training course on how to learn to adapt and thrive when working in different cultures. One of their exercises is not in the classroom but in the hallways. They take a half day to simulate applying for visas or residence permits from a rigid and inefficient bureaucracy. They set up tables around the halls to represent different offices one needs to visit. I can overhear snippets of the conversations, how the photographer assures the clients there’s no problem with him taking their ID photo of them, but just not right now. If they will just come back in an hour, he’ll be totally ready. An hour later he won’t be there, or the clients are still in line at another office.
How does this relate to Lewis’ notion that this world is really a training place for us rather than a resort spa? It struck me that the training exercise attempts to maximize the sensation of chaos and disorder with the frustration that the desired goal cannot be obtained. But really it is only an appearance of chaos. It is by design that it looks chaotic. Maybe the distresses of this life are also designed to look more chaotic than they are. I think Scripture does not want to give us naive optimism, that nothing can really go wrong. But it does want to give us hope, realistic optimism, that when painful, horrible things do happen, God is with us, and the pain of the chaos is not the final word.