We are put into this world so that we can go through all of the challenges of life: resisting temptations, choosing that which is right, and thereby shaping ourselves into who we will be for eternity. We were put into this world to grow. This world is the gym. The World to Come is the spa. It is the place where we enjoy the fruits of the work we put in while in this world. It is the place of reward.
The reason many people have difficulty understanding life is that they confuse this world for the World to Come. As a result, they have many, many questions. Why does man have to work so hard? Why are there so many challenges? Why is there suffering in the world?
Once a person clearly understands the purpose of life, so many of his questions naturally fall away. But until a person adopts an olam haba approach to life, nothing makes sense – not work, not challenges, and surely not pain and suffering. However, once a person adopts a World to Come perspective, these questions fall away.
If you ask a person who regularly works out if he enjoys the training, the answer will be a resounding “Yes!” But it is work. It is focused and often difficult. To grow one must strain. No pain, no gain. On the whole, the activity may be enjoyable, but it often isn’t easy.
Hashem created us to use this world for its intended purpose – to grow. Should life be fun? The answer is yes. But it is focused. It has a plan and a purpose.
Gedolim Didn’t Have It Easy
We often take the attitude that gedolim had it easy. Being Avraham Avinu would be a cinch; after all, Hashem spoke directly to him. He knew where he was headed in life. For him, life was a walk in the park. But me, I suffer. I have it rough.
The reality is that every human suffers. It’s a part of life. But it’s not by accident, and it’s not because Hashem isn’t clever enough to figure out a way to create man without pain and suffering. Quite the opposite; these situations were handcrafted as part of the challenges man needs to grow. This life is the great laboratory of growth. When a person understands this perspective, life itself has meaning and significance. He will understand both the purpose of his existence and reason for his life settings. With this vantage point, he can truly enjoy his stay on the planet, knowing the meaning and depth behind everything he lives through.