Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
No one can deny that there is a great deal of sorrow and suffering in the world. Siddhartha founded an entire religion based on that truth. But sickness and sighing are not the only things we experience in our life times. For if we are attentive, we also realize we have an inner, spiritual self which experiences the spiritual world including experiencing the presence of God our Creator and Savior. St Basil the Great reflects on our experience of life and death:
“Solomon the wise said, All things have their appointed time; there is a time for each event in life: a time to be born and a time to die (Eccl 3:1-2).
But I would change this wise king’s distinction about the proper times. In preaching to you of salvation, I would say: ‘There is a time to die and a time to be born.’ Why this change? Because Solomon referred to the natural order, where birth precedes death (since what has not been born cannot die). But I will be addressing you on a new, spiritual, birth, one where death precedes life. For we are born to the spirit by dying to the flesh. The Lord says, I bring both death and life (Deut 32:39). Let us die, so that we may live. Let us kill our material perspective, which is incapable of submitting to God’s law, to give birth to a robust spiritual frame of mind that will open the way to life and peace. Let us be buried with Christ, who died for us, that we may rise with him who is the harbinger of our own resurrection.” (ON FASTING AND FEASTS, p 41)
St Basil advocates we obey the Lord Jesus and take up our cross and follow Him. For in the values of the up-side-down Kingdom of Heaven, the proper order is death then life, rather than what we experience on earth which is birth (life) followed by death. He is of course talking about dying to one’s self followed by the spiritual birth and life which belongs to our inner, spiritual self. If we focus mostly or only on our bodies, we experience a great deal of suffering and sorrow and much of it seems to serve no redeeming purpose. However, when we nurture our inner, spiritual self we come to realize there are hidden meanings and purposes in much of what occurs in our lifetimes. For in all we experience are hidden the meaning and purpose which God has placed in His creation. Just like the Scriptures have hidden meanings which we must take the time to discover or discern, so life too is a mystery and a Scripture through which we can discover God’s will and way.
“To insist that Christians are to be spiritual is indeed quite proper, but to be spiritual is not to renounce the body per se (though it is to renounce immoral uses of the body). It is rather to be Holy Spirit inspired, an inspiration that encompasses the body—indeed, liberates the body—and as such grants a foretaste of what it will be like to have a spiritual body beyond death (a body animated by the spirit, 1 Cor 15:42-49; cf Rom 8:11). There is a proper bodily involvement in the world that enhances the inherent value of our bodies in the process.” (Jeremy Begbie, RESOUNDING TRUTH, p 217)