“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain)
While suffering is unfortunately the common denominator of life in this present world, pain and suffering will have no place in the world to come. This is, in part, what was accomplished with Jesus’ death on the cross. The cross gives us a hope that helps us endure, by grace, when the long shadow of suffering passes over us. It is the cross that promises a time when wrongs are made right and suffering is brought to an end.
The apostle John, nearing the end of his life and exiled for his faith in Christ, glimpsed what the fulfillment of this promise looked like. He described his vision in vivid terms:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
He described his vision in vivid terms…
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son (Revelation 21:3–7).
Where is God when we suffer? Right beside us.
He allowed His Son to experience the same things we experience. He provided the cross, which pays for our suffering and offers restored relationship with Him. And He is the God who promises that, in the life to come, all those things will be no more.
With the words of Revelation 21, the Bible’s story comes full circle. From paradise, through paradise lost, to paradise regained. Having begun with an unrestricted perfect relationship between the first man and woman, we find that we end with eternal relationships that will be perfect in every way.
This is the end of the problem of the world’s pain. We need never fear that God is disinterested in our pains, struggles, or heartaches—He is right there in the suffering with us:
…He is right there in the suffering with us…
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35–39).
God’s love for us is most evident by His presence with us when we suffer, not when suffering is absent. In His presence we can find peace. —Bill Crowder