Two of my favorite things to study and discuss are The Bible and Star Wars! My mom first shared the gospel with me when I was three years old — right before my fourth birthday. Right around the same time my parents took my sister and I to see Star Wars (now known as “Episode IV: A New Hope”) in the movie theater. These two events had a significant impact on the rest of my life. In fact, my parents often used the Star Wars saga to help me understand a few things about ultimately reality (if you would like to read the rest of that story, click here).
A long three years later The Empire Strikes Back was finally released and we were introduced to Yoda, the Jedi Master. Yoda seems to be full of wisdom (as well as great power), and is also full of memorable quotes. One of his most referenced sayings is the following:
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering!”
I don’t know if anger always “leads to hate,” after all, I think one can be “righteously angry” at someone they truly love. Be that as it may, suppose for the sake of conversation that Yoda is right, and that fear ultimately results in suffering. The question is raised: does it all end with suffering, or does suffering lead to anything? The Apostle Paul finishes Yoda’s line of thinking in Romans 5:3-5 and actually implies that we ought to rejoice when we suffer:
3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Lest one assume that he did not know what he was talking about, Paul knew what it meant to suffer! In fact, he compiled a list of a small sampling of some of his “sufferings” in 2 Corinthians 11:21-33. He also notes that these “small momentary afflictions prepare us for eternity” in 2 Corinthians 4:17.
With these scriptures in mind, understand that Paul ultimately solves all the so-called “problems of evil.” This is because these “light momentary afflictions” (suffering resulting from moral, natural, and even the awareness of “gratuitous evils”) prepare us for an “eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison!” These afflictions show us how things ought to be and also teach us how stupid it is not to strive to follow the “rules” given to us from God. This prepares us for Heaven as those who possess the “fear of God” will not ever make the same mistakes made by those who never previously suffered (Adam, Eve, Satan, and a third of all the angels).
This is the epitome of HOPE — a New Hope!
May the Force (the same God who created the universe and raised Jesus from the dead) be with you!