What Easter Says to Those Who Are Suffering

Last week, I read through a Holy Week devotional from Desiring God titled Your Sorrow Will Turn to Joy (available for free on their website—get it for next year!), and I very much appreciated these words by David Mathis from the end of the book:

Christ has been raised. Day no longer is fading to black, but night is awakening to the brightness. Darkness is not suffocating the sun, but light is chasing away the shadows. Sin is not winning, but death is swallowed up in victory.

Indeed, even agony will turn to glory, but Easter doesn’t suppress our pain. It doesn’t minimize our loss. It bids our burdens stand as they are, in all their weight, with all their threats. And this risen Christ, with the brilliance of indestructible life in his eyes, says, “These too I will claim in the victory. These too will serve your joy. These too, even these, I can make an occasion for rejoicing. I have overcome, and you will more than conquer.”

Easter is not an occasion to repress whatever ails you and put on a happy face. Rather, the joy of Easter speaks tenderly to the pains that plague you. Whatever loss you lament, whatever burden weighs you down, Easter says, “It will not always be this way for you. The new age has begun. Jesus has risen, and the kingdom of the Messiah is here. He has conquered death and sin and hell. He is alive and on his throne. And he is putting your enemies, all your enemies, under his feet.”

Not only will he remedy what’s wrong in your life and bring glorious order to the mess and vanquish your foe, but he will make your pain, your grief, your loss, your burden, through the deep magic of resurrection, to be a real ingredient in your everlasting joy. You will not only conquer this one day soon, but you will be more than a conqueror (Rom. 8:37)….

Easter announces, in the voice of the risen Christ, “Your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20), and “no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).

With the cross and resurrection at its core, Christianity need never deny the reality of evil and suffering because Jesus has proven Himself to be greater than all of it. He didn’t just overcome it, He overcame through it. The cross was the very means by which He secured joy: “[F]or the joy set before Him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). In this same way, all evil will be swallowed up. We will, in our resurrection, see that what we suffered was the means by which we gained joy, and the “eternal weight of glory” produced by our affliction will turn the suffering we experienced into a drop of dye lost in an ocean.

Sometimes we’re tempted to think evil is stronger than God, but when we understand that every attempt evil makes to harm us is working for our good, we’ll see that all of evil’s weapons have been removed from it; there is nothing left it can use against us.

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Amy K. Hall

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