The Christian faith, including the Christian understanding of suffering, centres on the good news of Jesus: his life, death and resurrection.
Last episode we discussed the amazing truth that God experiences pain and suffering in the person of Jesus. God understands our suffering, not in a merely theoretical way, but experientially.
But the Christian faith offers us more than a God who has experienced our pain. That is amazing and comforting but it doesn’t solve the problem of suffering and pain. A God who is merely a fellow sufferer with us, a God who is overcome by pain and defeated by death cannot actually help us.
But the good news about Jesus is that he defeats sin, suffering and death. Death was not the end for Jesus. He rose from the dead and was seen, spoken too and touched. His body still bore the marks of his suffering and death: pierced hands and feet and a spear gouge in his side. But his body was renewed and restored. He had smashed through the other side of suffering and death and was resurrected.
In the resurrection of Jesus lies our hope also. In the resurrection of Jesus, God’s new creation has broken into this world. In the resurrection of Jesus the death-knell of death and suffering has been sounded loud and clear.
God promises that what has already happened to Jesus will also happen to those who trust in him. We will be raised from the dead as Jesus was raised from the dead. And not just humans but the whole creation itself which is groaning with suffering and pain will be restored because of the resurrection of Jesus
Christian faith is hope-filled because we believe that suffering will not continue unabated forever. The all-powerful and all-loving God will finally defeat evil and suffering and he has promised to do that when Jesus returns. Then accounts will be reckoned, injustice will be dealt with, and the full restoration of this broken and groaning world will be completed.
The last book of the bible, Revelation, describes what things will be like when God completes his work in the world, when Jesus returns and puts everything right.
God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”