This is the third post in a series of three summarizing Pastor Tim Keller’s treatment of the problem of evil and suffering. It explores how Jesus and the resurrection help us deal with this thorny issue.
When you look at Jesus’ life from the gospels, one thing is clear: his life was filled with suffering. During his life, he faced frequent anger and hatred at the hands of the religious leaders. Just before his death, he was entirely overwhelmed with sorrow at the thought of facing God’s wrath for humanity (Mark 14:33-34). On the cross, he died an agonizing death and faced his Father’s abandonment (Matthew 27:46). This loss of the closest relationship possible was the worst part of his suffering (28-30).
Christianity is the only world religion that teaches that God became human and personally experienced torture and death. He knows what we’re going through because he’s been there. And, he did it in love. He had to die for us “so that someday he can end evil and suffering without ending us.”
So, although we still don’t know why God allows evil and suffering to continue, now we know that it can’t be that he doesn’t care, or, doesn’t understand. He cares so much that he became a man and died in our place so that we could be with him. He’s with us as we experience suffering and evil.
Still, at the end of the day, we need more than that. We need to know that our suffering has a purpose, and that it’s going to end someday. That’s where the Christian teaching on the resurrection comes in. (31)
The bible’s view of heaven is very different than that of the other major religions. It says that God will not take people out of this world into an immaterial space, but rather, that a physical heaven will come down and perfect our material world. Secularists teach that life after death does not exist, Eastern religions say that we lose our selves and “return to the great All-soul”, with the result that our material lives here are gone forever. While some religions do believe in a heaven, they teach that it’s a consolation prize for everything we’ve missed out on here. (32)
Christianity, however, insists that in heaven God will not only make up for what we’ve lost, but give us the life we always wanted – and even better. So while God doesn’t give us a complete answer as to why we suffer, he does suffer himself and promise that, one day, our lives will perfect and somehow far better for having experienced all that we have. (33)