Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.
But resurrection is not just consolation — it is restoration. We get it all back — the love, the loved ones, the goods, the beauties of this life — but in new, unimaginable degrees of glory and joy and strength.
It fits to glorify God — it not only fits reality, because God is infinitely and supremely praiseworthy, but it fits us as nothing else does. All the beauty we have looked for in art or faces or places — and all the love we have looked for in the arms of other people — is only fully present in God himself. And so in every action by which we treat him as glorious as he is, whether through prayer, singing, trusting, obeying, or hoping, we are at once giving God his due and fulfilling our own design.
Jesus lost all His glory so that we could be clothed in it. He was shut out so we could get access. He was bound, nailed, so that we could be free. He was cast out so we could approach. And Jesus took away the only kind of suffering that can really destroy you: that is being cast away from God. He took so that now all suffering that comes into your life will only make you great. A lump of coal under pressure becomes a diamond. And the suffering of a person in Christ only turns you into somebody gorgeous.
Imagine there is someone you admire more than anything else in the world. You would do anything for him or her. Now imagine you discover that this person feels exactly the same about you and enter into either a lifetime friendship or a romantic relationship and marriage. Sound like heaven? Yes, because it comes from heaven.
This is the humbling truth that lies at the heart of Christianity. We love to be our own saviours. Our hearts love to manufacture glory for themselves. So we find messages of self-salvation extremely attractive, whether they are religious (keep these rules and you earn eternal blessing) or secular (grab hold of these things and you’ll experience blessing now). The gospel comes and turns them all upside down. It says: You are in such a hopeless position that you need a rescue that has nothing to do with you at all. And then it says: God in Jesus provides a rescue which gives you far more than any false salvation your heart may love to chase.
The ONLY LOVE that won’t disappoint you is one that can’t change, that can’t be lost, that is not based on the ups and downs of life or of how well you live. It is something that not even death can take away from you. God’s love is the only thing like that.
God does not love us because we are serviceable; He loves us simply because He loves us. This is the only kind of love we can ever be secure in, of course, since it is the only kind if love we cannot possibly lose. This is grace.