Almost daily we hear stories, whether on the news or from friends and family, of atrocities committed against the innocent; teen suicides; broken marriages; loved ones dying; financial devastation. The list goes on and on. How excruciating life is in this sin-sick world, this vale of tears. How often we simply grit our teeth and hold onto the promise of heaven. How often we cry out, “Lord, come quickly!” not because we want to see Him but because this life is untenable.
How do we find joy in the midst of so much anguish?
I don’t always enjoy Easter sermons. Most of the time they dwell on the horrendous suffering of Christ on the cross, and how grateful we should be for His infinite love and that we can spend eternity in heaven with Him. All true. Or how the disciples didn’t know our risen Lord when He walked with them on the road to Emmaus until He revealed Himself. Also true. We are all guilty of spiritual blindness more often than we know.
This Easter the sermon reached down into my soul and brought comfort, healing, and encouragement. It gave me new understanding. For the first time I heard that the kingdom of God comes through weakness and suffering; this is the message of the resurrection.
The resurrection was God the Father’s divine amen to Jesus’ “It is finished” on the cross. He had been weak in the garden, asking if at all possible, the cup might be removed. Then He was obedient even to death on the cross—the most humiliating death possible—after suffering more than anyone could ever imagine, including His Father turning His face away from His Son who became sin for us.
Jesus’ glory is the same glory He had before He suffered, bled, and died for us, but it is a greater glory because of His suffering. Jesus has a glorified body, but He carries His scars still. They are the evidence of His love for us.
Jesus will redeem all of history, including ours. Our failures, weakness, and suffering become an acceptable sacrifice because through them we learn humility, insight, compassion, wisdom, courage, and love: the character of Christ.
Perhaps the truth that affected me most profoundly is that this world is the best that God can give us. Why? Because we have the choice to rise above temptation, and insult, and injury. Because of self-sacrifice, courage, compassion, endurance, and love in the face of evil, bringing glorious victory over that evil. When the earth is restored from death, it will have a greater glory than if it had retained the perfection of the creation.
We find joy in the midst of anguish when we remember that God is sovereign. Not only is He sovereign but He is wise, and not only is He sovereign and wise, but He is good. All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. All things. It’s all right to be weak and to suffer. Hold fast, beloved. Glory is coming.