Hopelessness and Grief are Not the End

Andy takes a closer look at how Mary Magdalene’s experience shows us that hopelessness and grief are not the end of the story, they are latent with a promise of something beyond the here and now.
Time after time, wisdom works in the interruptions of our daily lives.

At the cross in Jesus, God showed Himself to be faithful to us fully and finally. And then in raising Jesus from the dead, God began His work of redemption, renewal, restoration, rescue. In the life of Jesus, God kept His promise as evidence that He’s going do the same thing for all of us, the whole of humanity and the cosmos. And that’s amazing! It’s amazing to think that our pain, hopelessness, and grief are not the end of the story, that God remembers us.

The tender image of God, whose hands that flung stars into space, also wiping tears from our eyes, is hard to accept.

Make it personal:

  • What do you find ‘hard to accept’ about the God revealed in the Bible?

  • How does the message of the cross contrast with other approaches to suffering?

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I’m having a growing realisation that the gospel doesn’t diminish our fears, struggles and sufferings. Where other worldviews and belief systems offer ways to avoid suffering or somehow work our way out of suffering, the gospel acknowledges that our suffering is real and shows us how Jesus steps into it with us. I think this is incredibly important when showing a person how much they matter and how valid their struggles are.

I think of people close to me who struggle with a deep sense of hopelessness in life. I find it a relief to be able to say to them their feelings are valid but also that’s not the end of the story. It both validates them as a human and also brings hope. It’s the opposite of escapism or ignorance.

Whilst it may be incredibly hard to accept that God usually doesn’t just take away the suffering immediately, it’s incredibly comforting to know that he’s more interested in me as a person by walking with me in the pain rather than just wiping it away and moving on to the next problem to solve. This, for me, gives me a greater sense of God’s love and promise of hope than any other approach to suffering.

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Alison, thank you for stating this so clearly and movingly.

There are times when I have questioned God and his word because it doesn’t take away all of my suffering or make me completely happy all the time. But I have come to realize those were unrealistic expectations.

Rather, there is a deeper peace and joy from knowing Christ in the midst of ongoing trials and difficulties. I am so grateful that the Bible is honest about the pain and the stink of life but also offers hope and God’s friendship in the midst of it.

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I think that having a God who desires intimacy and closeness with His people can be hard for many of us to understand. It somehow seems better or easier to have a God who is ‘way up there,’ and we are made only to worship and serve Him like the people did to the Greek gods or Egyptian gods of old. I know that I grapple with understanding the revelation of the depths of God’s love for me and for all people. Because it is hard to accept God like this, I think it is easier many times to perceive Him as somebody who is much smaller, less gracious, less compassionate and less loving. In thinking about God in this way it also becomes more justifiable to blame Him when things are not working out like we think they should.

The cross speaks to how far God is willing to go to redeem humanity from humanities sins. Just like we don’t understand the depths of God’s love, likewise, we don’t grasp the depravity of our sins. We should all suffer for our sins in this world and the next. Other religions weigh up the cost of our badness or our goodness to determine why we may be suffering in this life, and also, what our next life may be like. The Christian God makes no bones about how depraved and how severe the cost of sin is. It is what makes the cross of Christ all the more remarkable and all the more unfathomable, that our God will never forsake His people.

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