#TheDifference Grief and suffering make

I doubt I’ll ever forget the moment I got that phone call. “Your great aunt has been mugged and knocked out. She’s in intensive care.” I was living the nearest to the hospital so I got my boss’s permission and headed off knowing others would be getting there as quickly as they could. It was a strange day and night. We were allowed to sit with her. She was unresponsive. We tried to keep a conversation going and to talk to her hoping that she might be hearing something. We reminisced about the past. We talked about what we were doing. But mainly we just waited as the hospital monitors showed us that her life was slipping away.

Living in between

There was a sense of waiting, life in limbo of “living in between.”[1]  And that’s really the experience of Jesus’ disciples on that Easter Saturday. They were living in between. Friday had gone. Sunday had not yet arrived. They couldn’t do much because it was the Sabbath. I wonder what it was like for them. There would have been shock, grief, fear, guilt.

So here we are on Easter Saturday between Friday and Sunday, thinking about grief and suffering.

When we talk about suffering, I find there are three big questions, If? Why? How?

If

If God is love and God is sovereign then why does he allow suffering? Now, I’m not going to deal with this directly today though I think some clues to the answer will be contained in what I’m about to say

Why

This is more the personal question. It’s not theoretical. “Why am I suffering?” Again I think a lot of this is linked in to the answer to the final question.

How

How do I live with grief and suffering. It’s this question I want to focus on here.  Believe it or not, I think that one of the best helps to this is having that sense of “Living in between.”

Christians sometimes call this “Now and Not yet.” We don’t live in between Friday and Sunday but we do live in between two days. We live between the day when Jesus dealt with sin, guilt and shame on the cross and the future day when Jesus will come again and put everything right and make all things new.

So how do I live with grief and suffering and what difference does Easter make to these things?

Well, first of all, I live by looking back. When I look back to the Cross I see two things. First of all, I see that God is not sat at a distance but in Jesus has drawn near. He understands and empathises with suffering because Christ has suffered. Secondly I see that on the Cross, Jesus dealt with the root cause of suffering, he dealt with the problem of sin and evil.

Then secondly, I look forward. I look forward to the day when Jesus will return and put everything right. This means that suffering even though it hurts now and even though it seems to go on for ever is not for ever. Suffering is temporary. There’s the future promise of life forever with Jesus. The bible tells us that there’s a place where there will be no more sin, no more sickness, no more tears, no more death.

These things enable me to live now, in between. I know that God is present with me through his Holy Spirit to look after me and stick with me through suffering. I know that he uses even my suffering for my good.

I know that I have certain hope of Christ’s return. Sunday’s coming!

[1] This is a phrase my friend Terry Koh used to describe one of life’s experiences and It resonates with me.

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