Going through Hell, but Coming Out Better - A Video on the Purpose of Suffering


While I never served in the military, it is my understanding that basic military training, aka “boot camp” is one of the most arduous and grueling things one can go through. Or, to put it simply, it is hell.

First, there’s the physical aspect – soldiers need to be in good physical shape to be able to perform the tasks expected of them. To that end, to get through basic training (not including specialized training for different services) requires the following:

Two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a timed, two-mile run. The Army bases scores on recruits’ age, gender, number of repetitions or amount of time taken for each component. To complete boot camp, recruits must score at least 50 points in each event, for a total of 150 points. For men ages 17 to 21, that means performing at least 35 push-ups and 47 sit-ups, as well as running two miles in no more than 16 minutes and 36 seconds. Male recruits ages 22 to 26 have to complete a minimum of 31 push-ups, 43 sit-ups and a two-mile run in 17 minutes and 30 seconds or less. Women recruits ages 17 to 21 must be able to do 13 push-ups and 47 sit-ups, and post a time of no more than 19 minutes and 42 seconds on the two-mile run. Female recruits ages 22 to 26 have to perform 11 push-ups, 43 sit-ups and a two-mile run of 20 minutes and 36 seconds or less. ~ “What Are The Army’s Minimal Physical Requirements to Join?” 

However, the physical requirements demanded of recruits at boot camp are actually of second importance to the mental toughness that basic military training builds in the recruits. According to military.com, “Boot camp is mostly a mind game.”  Just as an example, when my son went to boot camp at Fort Benning, the plane that on which he traveled to Georgia was delayed and the last bus for the day to take recruits to the Fort left the airport before he even arrived. Thus, he had to endure a rather sleepless night in the airport terminal, then he was taken to Fort Benning the following day where they kept him very busy, and ended the day by being put on all-night guard duty. So, right out the gate he had to stay awake and functioning for more than 48 hours straight. I am convinced that it was no coincidence that he pulled overnight guard duty his first night.

Basic Training is hell. It’s one of the most difficult tasks a person can undertake. Why would anyone put themselves through such rigor and pain? Why does the military put people through it?  Isn’t it much easier to stay home, watch television, eat chocolate and yell virtually at other people over the Internet?

The reason that boot camp is so hard is that the hell experienced is worth it. The Military.com site notes, “If you have the courage to succeed, ‘Boot Camp’ will help you develop into a mature, highly disciplined, and fully capable servicemember. During this time, Drill Instructors (DI) will teach you how to care for yourself and others, function as a member of a team and to achieve success together.”

Come to think of it, most things that are worth doing require some pain. From weight lifting to running to constructing a building to working on a car, the old adage, “No pain, no gain” seems appropriate. In fact, we are presently being told that all of the restrictions on our freedom caused by government ordered shut-downs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are “worth it” to defeat the virus. If there weren’t an end goal in mind that was better than the status quo, there would be no reason to follow such onerous restrictions.

I think that is one of the things that Christians too often forget when we look at the evil in the world: there is an end-goal in mind. For the atheist, evil (to the extent that we can actually call anything evil in a world that evolved by a combination of time and chance) and suffering are pointless. They point to the non-existence of God who, if He did exist, would obviously be indifferent, to be generous, to the suffering going on around Him. More likely, such a God would be evil and pernicious. But that’s something for philosophers because the atheist does not believe in God and therefore has little grounding for being able to say something is good or evil other than one of the many variations of the utilitarian arguments for ethics and morality.

But Christians understand that God does exist and is sovereign. And most importantly, they should know that  the evil and suffering that we see (1) has a purpose – it prepares us to be better ambassadors for His Kingdom and prepares us for the upcoming new age where we will live a glorious existence on the New Earth, and (2) the glory that is to come outweighs the temporary sufferings of this life -- even if those sufferings may seem mountainous to us on this side of heaven. 

And what will this New Earth be like?

Recently, I came across a really good video by author Randy Alcorn, Founder and Director of  Eternal Perspective Ministries entitled C.S. Lewis on Heaven and the New Earth: God's Eternal Remedy to the Problem of Evil and Suffering.  In the video, Alcorn discusses the Christian understanding of the purpose of evil and suffering, the role of heaven and the New Earth where we will live bodily for eternity. It is a really fine discussion, and I encourage you to invest the 65 minutes it takes to watch it.

If you find watching a video lecture difficult, consider it boot camp for your soul  – there is an eternal benefit to learning knowable truths about what God has in store for you.



Anonymous said…
What people go through in the boot camp are techniques used by cults (fast forward to 45:17):

Mark Passio: Confessions of a Former Bastard Cop-Part 01

If I had kids, I would advise them not to go into the military, or join the police force.
BK said…
Oh, there is no question that the techniques are similar, but the aim is very different. I have worked with many soldiers and police officers over the years, and a lot of them are among the finest people I have met. The techniques are used by the military in a positive way and are not as intrusive as cults use. But this does kinda' miss the point. I wasn't arguing for or against the actual methods used in boot camp, but rather the fact that it is very arduous but should result in making the recruit a better soldier (and person, for that matter).
Anonymous said…
I am sure that there are nice people in the military and police, but that doesn't make them good people. Mark Passio is right. These people usually follow orders, not their own conscience.

Passio used to be part of the satanist dark occult (at a low level. When he found out their true aim, he left). You know what they called military and policemen? Their dogs. That's why military have dog tags.
BK said…
JBsptfn, I respect you, but I don't agree with that opinion at all. Certainly, there are some bad apples in both the military and police, but when I said that they were among the finest people I have met, I am not exaggerating. (Not saying they are good; that's a Biblical discussion of who is good.) But I don't believe that the military and police as a whole are the dogs for Satanists - not even remotely.
Anonymous said…
JBsptfn If I had kids, I would advise them not to go into the military, or join the police force.

Or just torture them on a weekly basis.

That is the logical conclusion of your post: suffering is good, therefore it only makes sense to cause suffering in those we love.

Of course, you will reject the idea of torturing children - and rightly so. The reality is that we all recognise that suffering is to be avoided if possible. If you have a headache, do you thank God for making you a better person or reach for the medicine? If you have ever chosen to use any kind of pain relief, then you are acknowledging the suffering is to be avoided.

"Come to think of it, most things that are worth doing require some pain."

I think raising children is worthwhile, but I managed to do that with any suffering for either me or them. I think it is worth getting up every morning. I think it is worth preparing meals for my family. I think it is worth going to work. None of these things require some pain.

I have to wonder at your life style if you are finding that most of the things you do are causing you pain. Perhaps consult a doctor even.

Anonymous said…
JBsptfn, I have just realised I misread your comment entirely, and was spouting nonsense. Apologies! Please disregard (and delete?).

Anonymous said…
That's OK, Pixie.
Anonymous said…
Another thing I should mention. Mark Passio had a slide with a quote from George Mason, co-author of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. It goes like this:

"Once a standing army is established in any country, the people lose their liberty. Recollect the history of most nations in the world. What havoc, desolation and destruction have been perpetrated by standing armies!"

Mason was referring to the military, and the police fall into that as well. Here is the presentation:

Mark Passio: The True Meaning Of The 2nd Amendment

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