Jesus and the Good News about Suffering

Jesus and the Good News about Suffering

jesus-crucifiedBy Jeff Goins, Christian Post – It’s about time that we in America were a little more honest — about life and about our spirituality.

Let’s face it: life is hard. There are lay-offs and kids with runny noses and sleepless nights and stupid bosses. This should be no surprise to you that times can be tough.

No, that’s not to say that every day is an insurmountable challenge to overcome. There is grace and peace and rest. But most days — at least for those who work hard and go to bed tired — consist of a good amount of struggle and toil.

Here’s what I’d like to propose: That’s okay.

For those of us who profess to follow Jesus, we need to give ourselves permission to admit that there is hardship after you become a Christian.

This is harder than it sounds. In our capitalistic, entrepreneurial society, there is a deeply-ingrained, “bootstrap” ethic that most people — consciously or unconsciously — carry with them. It is the expectation that if there is a challenge that I, and I alone, should be able to overcome it through hard work.

This “go get ’em” attitude isn’t entirely a bad thing, but it can lead to disappointment and disillusionment. That’s because the system that we’ve learned is wrong.

It is not uncommon to hear an evangelical (preacher or layperson) share the following formula for Christian conversion:

  1. You have a God-shaped hole in your heart.
  2. Jesus wants to enter your heart and bring purpose to your life.
  3. When you accept Jesus, that hole is filled, and the emptiness in your life disappears.

While there are pieces of truth to this, it is not entirely true. If it were true, there would be no Christian alcoholics or porn-addicts, would there? (And I believe there are.)

Let’s be real for a second: life is hard. It’s okay to admit this. It doesn’t make you a “bad Christian.” In fact, it makes you a better one.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33) This is comforting — we might even say “good” — news. Promising that we’ll suffer and have hard times is good to hear, because it means that the message of Christ is relevant and realistic. It applies to me and my situation today. Why? Because I know life is hard.

When Jesus talks about the “kingdom of God” he is not speaking about a heightened religious experience. He is inviting us into the realm of his Father — a new reality that is manifesting itself in our broken, torn-up world. It’s the collision of two realities — light and darkness. And the dark isn’t going to be ousted without a fight.

The truth is that we do have trouble in this world. But the comfort comes in knowing this: it shouldn’t be a surprise. In fact, in the passage mentioned above, Jesus tells us this so that in him we can have peace.

Trouble is an indication of God’s kingdom is entering our world. Yes, the world is fighting back, but this new reality is coming now. This is good news.

If that’s too mystical for you, here’s the real crux: He’s worth it. Jesus is worth all the crap we have to go through in this life. In fact, when we find ourselves struggling, we find ourselves in good company:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)

And we find ourselves not in a hopeless situation, but right in the middle of a promise that ensures God’s victory (and our own).

“But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33c)

Next time you are reminded of how tough and troubling life can be, remember that this is a harbinger of hope — that a new kingdom invading our world, and this is, without a doubt, good news.


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