The very last phrase in Mark 10:34 is the very best phrase. We read “And after three days he will rise.”
Christ will rise. Christ comes and suffers and dies on the cross to liberate you and me from this sinful world for his glory. He has to die in-part because we face sorrows, trials, and pains – including death – that we cannot overcome in our own strength.
Jesus is not just the great empathizer. Nor is Jesus the savior of Jenny Craig, of Nike, or Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Our savior is the God of the universe. He has triumphed over the grave.
We can and must trust Jesus because he saves us from every trial and even death itself. Jesus is our great savior.
And all those who trust him will triumph. We will have eternal life. Regardless of how much we suffer and regardless how much our heart is pained by our own sins, by foolishness of those we love, and by the decaying forces of nature, we will be more than conquerors. We will ultimately be ‘ok’ because God has triumphed over the grave. Our foolish decision to send that prince in Nigeria our bank account number, the hateful words of our father, and a miscarriage will not destroy our soul. Jesus is alive. Nothing can rob his love from us even a terminal diagnosis from our doctor.
The great news of the gospel does not stop there! The power that raised Christ from the dead is working in us!
In Colosians 2:11-13, we read,
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
We are called to admit that our suffering is real, hard, and at sometimes almost crushing.
And then we find hope in the risen savior who has died to pay for all his sin and to bring all suffering to an end. We can handle the news of cancer, we can bury a loved one, and we can watch our children get divorced. We can witness all these bad things and more and still walk faithfully with the Lord because the power the raised Christ from the dead is working in us.
We are not alone, seeking to navigate hurt by coming up with our own Jane Austin like satire that lesser people fail to grasp. We don’t have to panic. God is alive and moving in our soul. He is sanctifying our hearts and increasing our faith, truth and wisdom. Jesus will see us through.
He will give us the wisdom we need to speak to our hurts and to the trials of others. He will give us the ability to walk up to the precipice of death and to cross over into heaven.
We do not have to be afraid of suffering because Jesus is alive and his spirit is working in us for our deliverance.
The gospel is what saves us, and it is what sustains us as we faces trial and struggles. If you are afraid of death, of cancer, or unrepentant children, turn your eyes to Jesus. Place your hope in him. He is able. He is alive.
And because Jesus is alive, we also know with certainty that no suffering is pointless or out of God’s control. Jesus conquered death. He conquered sin. Because God rules supreme, Satan, creation and humanity cannot stop or alter any of Jesus’ plans for us or for our loves ones. Jesus rules!
Our trials are not good. Our suffering is not good. Jesus came and died because our suffering results from either moral or natural evil. Jesus died because he seeks to end suffering. But since God worked through suffering to accomplish our salvation and the salvation of the world, we can and should trust God to work out all of our suffering for our good. This is the heart of James 1 and of Romans 8. James 1:2-4 boldly states:
Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And lest steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Since God uses the suffering of his son to accomplished that greatest good in human history, we can trust that our cancer, our wayward children, and our sorrows are being used for our good. They are being used to strip us of all of our lust, wants, and desires that our opposed to Christ. They are being used to transform us more and more into the image of Christ. Thus, we can count it all joy when we suffer because God reigns and we will reign with him in paradise one day.
Because God is sovereign and suffering, we know our suffering always has meaning even though we cannot see it. – Tim Keller
We do not have to be afraid of suffering because Jesus is alive. The gospel is true. We have great hope because the health and wealth gospel is not the real gospel. The real gospel says we are sinners with corrupt hearts and fallen bodies who have been saved by the suffering Christ who died the cross. Ever torment, ever illness, every piece of bad news, ever sin of our children fits into this narrative.
Are you ready to trust God with your suffering?