A fellow said to me once that the reason he didn’t believe in God was because of all the bad things that happened to people, and he couldn’t believe that a loving God would let that happen. I asked him what life would look like if God prevented every bad thing from happening to everybody. He thought for a minute and said, “well I guess it would be heaven”, and I responded, “exactly“. So the question is, “why did God put life on the planet earth with all its problems in front of heaven, because that is exactly what He did”. Let me suggest several reasons:
1. God wants heaven populated with people who really love Him. Real love is not a result of perfect circumstances, everybody “loves” then. Real love endures, has toughness as part of its DNA. Life is a test to see who gets to live in heaven forever. The test isn’t perfection or performance, it is love, love that endures.
2. If we started out in heaven we would have zero appreciation for heaven’s beauty, for it’s joy, it’s perfection. Heaven is heaven because of the contrast between it and life. When the kids were young we put some black construction paper in the freezer having heard that it was going to snow. When it began to snow we took the paper out of the freezer and let some snow flakes fall onto the black paper. It was easy to see the design, the beauty and the difference in each snow flake because of the contrast created by the white snowflake against the black paper.
3. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is community, family, and They are expanding the family to include us. That is amazing to think about, we will be part of the family of God. It doesn’t seem unreasonable that God would like His expanded family to be like Him in character so that He can enjoy our fellowship and we His. Character can not be created in a moment of time, only trials make character.