It Would Have Been Better Had It Not Happened
Let us remind ourselves of the point made earlier that most things are not of the Divine will: many come from lower degrees of the Divine Providence. Especially if something comes from permission, which the Lord does not will, we are able to say: It would have been better had it not happened. This is the same as saying, the Lord did not want it to happen. He permitted it, as one unwilling. With this as a background, we can see what the Lord then provides in the way of good.
Temporal unhappiness the Lord permits: eternal harm, He does not permit. With this as a central concept, we can assume that the Lord will never allow an evil man to force a good man, through any ruses, to go to hell, when he would otherwise have gone to heaven. He may make him unhappy. He may lead him to do some wrong things: but the Lord will not allow that the good man lose his freedom to go to the heaven to which he wills to go.
We may go further, and say that the Lord will not allow a good man to be forced to go to a lower heaven than he would have chosen without the influence of evil from outside. This also would be a thwarting of the Divine Providence to some degree, which is impossible. I would speculate, however, and it seems a fair speculation, that we may bruise a sensitivity to some of the loves in the same degree but always there is a compensation. In other words, a man who teaches his child to love fighting and violence cannot stop that child from learning the truth as an adult, and rejecting violence, and coming into, say, the spiritual heaven. What he will have robbed the child of will have been states of innocence, during his childhood, in which he could perceive certain qualities of gentleness – a matter of continuous degree. However, in compensation for this, the child (now an angel) will have learned at first hand a quality of evil which those raised more gently could not perceive, and would be more aware of many states, from a knowledge of their opposites, than would others. He has lost, certainly, and it was a great wickedness that his father should have deprived him of these things, and almost certainly through it given him many years of unhappiness. The Lord has caused him to gain something else in place of his losses; and who can count the value of each, and weigh them in the balance?
With these thoughts in mind, then, let us take an example of a man who died as the result of a motor accident, which was the fault of the other driver, and left a wife and several children. We must feel for those who are left behind, for we know that the Lord did not will that such a disorderly exit from this earth take place. Nor can we say that the Lord willed that the man leave this earth at that particular time, since it seems that the only death the Lord wills is that of old age. (AC 5726)It would have been better, much better, had it not taken place; but if the Lord disallowed certain things, then the freedom of all would be destroyed. It would have been better, in the short run. I believe that the burden of the Word’s teachings on this subject is that husband and wife and children, will know temporary sorrow, not eternal loss; and therefore we may rightly conclude that, perhaps fifty years later, when the wife has lived out her life on earth, they will meet once more, and enter into the same degree of heaven into which they would have come had they remained together on earth – as the Lord willed them to remain! During that fifty years, the wife especially would have known sorrow, and a sense of loss, which the Lord did not will upon her; but once it had to be permitted, He provided that through the separation other things could be provided which would make up for their loss. So they would enter heaven no poorer: a little different, but facing the same eternal joy.
It is hard to think, in times of loss, about eternal joy; hard to resign oneself to the fact that someone we love will come to us in forty years’ time perhaps, and only then may we be sure that he or she will never leave us again. It is the tragedy of evil which the Lord must permit that these things come to be. But it is the wonder of the Lord’s Providence that despite all evil, He provides through misfortune new values, new joys and loves to make up for what was lost, so that we may find contentment over those years in working towards, building towards, and looking towards that final reunion.
If things were perfect, there would be no temporal unhappiness either. But since things are not perfect, the second best is that there be only some temporal unhappiness, and none that is eternal – unless the man himself insists on it.