Imagine the poor souls who become disabled by a serious medical illness. Or someone who loses a spouse or child. Or someone who is unjustly sent to prison for life. The list could go on.
And imagine there is no way to undo the situation. No way to go back and prevent it, or to go on living as if the circumstances of your life haven't been permanently changed.
I listed above some extreme examples, but many of us have or will deal with some life-altering personal challenges. A surgeon has to quit doing surgery after losing some fingers to frostbite climbing Everest. A married couple can no longer have marital relations because of some kind of unusual, medical complication. One day you wake up and your vision is so bad you can no longer drive a car--at least legally anyway.
Many of us will have some kind of mutilating experience in their life, or know someone first-hand who has. And a choice has to be made.
The way I see, you've got one of three choices:
1. Jump off a bridge. I don't see any upside here. Either you go from a state of seeming misery in this life to an infinitely worse and permanent state (hell), or if you'd be lucky to make it to purgatory, the suffering would be instantaneously worse.
2. Give up on life and sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Become a drunk, druggie, self-loathing, life hating, morbidly depressed dropout on life. I can see one upside here. In the moment, there might be some relief from escaping reality. But given enough time--days or weeks would do the trick--you'd have sunk into a deeper state of misery. Life would be even worse.
3. Which brings us to door #3: maximize your life the best you can despite your handicap or debilitating cross. If you lose your legs, learn to walk and run using artificial prostheses. If you lose a spouse to death, mourn and then move on, finding new or renewed relationships.
In the end, no matter how awful the situation may seem, if we care about God and our life, we don't have any other choice than #3. That's the raw fact of life.
This post is a bit of hyperbole. Many fortunately will not face tragic change in their life. Not sure the % in that category, but reflecting on the three above choices, I can see how they'd apply to any trial or cross you're facing, whether it is small or large, temporary or permanent.
In the end we can a) completely give up on a situation, b) retreat into self-pity and a kind of self-indulgence that really hurts more than relieves, or c) grab that bull by the horns, overcome the setback, refuse to throw in the towel, and choose to live fully and as blessedly as possible this little life God has given us.
Our Faith tells me that's the only way to be happy in the next. And ironically, common sense tells me that's actually the only way to be happy in this life too.