1 Corinthians 15:19 KJV
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Why would Christians be miserable in this life if there were no life after?
The Apostle could not be speaking about the disappointment of finding out after we have died that there is no life after death. What was it about being a Christian that made it so it is a miserable existence except for the promise of eternal life?
the apostles, …. being continually exposed to hardships and persecution for the sake of Christ; were set forth as a spectacle to angels and men; were accounted the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things; and suffered many indignities, and great reproach and affliction, and that for asserting the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead; ….. all others that hope in Christ …. not only deny themselves the pleasures, honours, and profits of this world, but are exposed continually to the hatred, reproach, and persecution of it; they are chastised by God as other men are, that they may not be condemned with the world, and yet they must be condemned, if Christ is not risen; they are harassed and distressed by Satan, who follows them with his temptations and suggestions, which are so many fiery darts, which give them great pain and uneasiness, when others are unmolested by him; they groan under a body of sin they carry about with them, and desire and long to be unclothed, that they might be clothed upon with glory and immortality; and yet these very desires and earnest longings after a blessed eternity do but add to their misery …."
Some argue for salvation with this logic, "If I surrender my life to Christ and give all to him and then find out when I die there is no life after death, I have not lost anything. But if you continue to live unsaved and then find out I am right and there is an eternal hell you have lost everything." Paul did not use that line. He said that the Christian life was miserable, even most miserable, except for the hope of eternal life.
The day has changed and I understand that. The world is more tolerant of faiths of all sorts. But it could be that our modern Christianity is so far from the sort Paul preached that we are friends with the world and have no real friendship with God. The modern preacher who shuns discouragement and depression and refuses that they would be part of the true character of the Christian misses the import of passages like this.
• Perhaps we ought to be less happy with our life today.
• Perhaps we ought to yearn for something not just better, but so much better, that this life is miserable in comparison.
• Perhaps we ought to believe that life with Christ is so much better that we will gladly die to this life so Christ may live in us.