Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Gospel and Pain


Do repeated images of the bombings in Boston serve any purpose? When 9/11 happened, I watched it too much. I still weep at the painful memories and feel great sadness. Sometimes I must tell myself that this is not about me, or my reaction to events. Often, I wonder if the pain I feel about horror in the lives of others just might be the pain that God feels when humanity does such terrible things to its own.

Jesus died that we might be set free from the pain of our own sin, and so we don’t hate, maim and murder. He died even to help us bear the sin of others who do these things. Yet one day it will be over — no more sin and no more pain for those who are in Christ…

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

In the interim, the Gospel remains His answer to pain. For one thing, the fact that Jesus died for me shows that God so loved the world. Only He can hate our sin and yet love us enough to die for us, to give us hope in the face of our pain. The Gospel declares that this life is not all there is, and that the pain of it will come to an end.

Christ Himself does the same thing. He was troubled by death and by sin, but the Scriptures do not say that He shied away from pain, even though He experienced it at its worst.

His power was the sure knowledge that His heavenly Father loved Him. He was more concerned on the cross about Him turning away than He was about the nails in His hands and feet or the suffocating and slow dying that crucifixion produces. Yet in all this, He focused on God’s love and the promised results. Knowing His Father loved Him and would keep His promises meant that He could endure pain.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2)

The Gospel gives me that same promise. There is joy set before me. This life, painful or not, is not all there is. I can endure whatever pain might be my lot because I know what’s coming. God will wipe away all tears and pain will be no more… because of Jesus.

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