This world is broken. Loss and pain are far too often present, leaving in their wake so many questions and great grief. And if this world was all there is, even we who follow Christ would have reason to despair. The challenges we face are too great, the grief is too heavy, and the limitations of a fallen world are too constraining. So, in the midst of heartache and pain, what do we have in Christ that makes us different from everyone else?
The first thing that comes to mind is grace. In Christ, my hope never has to be that this life will work out the way I want it to – and this is a very good thing indeed (because life often doesn’t). My confidence never has to rest in money, relationships, success – or anything else. What separates me from those who don’t know Christ is the assurance I can have that His grace will sustain me. No matter what. When my hope rests on the grace of Immanuel – the One who promises to never leave my side – I’m no longer so easily shaken by the awful things in this world. Will I still hurt? Yes. Grieve? Yes. Falter? Absolutely. But my confidence is not in myself or found in my wavering emotions – my confidence is in the faithfulness of my God no matter what I feel or face this side of heaven. He is faithful and the giver of grace; and this is the sweetest assurance, and the most blessed hope.
The second source of security, which provides the stability to react differently in grief and suffering, is the promise of heaven. Things on this earth will never be perfect; but because of the hope of heaven, I don’t need them to be. This knowledge can feel trite in the midst of deep loss – the possibility of better days ahead feels distant enough – let alone the hope of an eternal joy in heaven. And yet, we would do well to ask God to remind us that this world is not all there is and to help us to remember the promise of heaven to those who love and follow Him. If we can grasp this (while asking God for His help in the midst of our suffering), it will radically change our perspective on suffering and instill a hope unshakeable. Perhaps this, more than anything else, is what compels people to wonder at those who follow Christ.
Hope is powerful, but easily falters when we’ve misplaced it – and we often do. Suffering has the beautiful ability to redirect our hope, making us a light in the darkness and teaching us to draw from the Well that never, ever runs dry.
I don’t know what grief you are facing or the magnitude of your suffering, but God does. And He beckons you to come and receive His grace and to be given eyes for heaven. He is the hope that will never disappoint.