The Dark Side of the Gospel

Pain. It was everywhere. All around me. I sat as one with the crowd of mourners, struggling to fight back the tears. A sudden death. A life taken in an instant. There wasn’t even time to say, “goodbye.” And we, the hundreds gathered in that church, were left behind to be engulfed by the grief, the emptiness . . . the pain.

Pain. It is everywhere. It strangles the heart and strips away everything inside us. So where do we turn when pain becomes real? The answer can’t be to “just try harder.” That wouldn’t solve anything. We’ve tried that again and again, and it only left us hopeless. What we need is the dark side of the Gospel. The part where Christ was broken on the cross.

So where do we turn when pain becomes real?

Pain empties us. It sucks us completely dry. And that’s where Christ steps in. Christ bore every single pain we will ever experience. When we found ourselves starved of all life, He died our death. He gave life to our dryness. He brought hope to our pain. He filled our emptinesses by filling the cross with Himself.

When we are in pain, we need to look to the cross. Not the empty cross. We need to turn our eyes to the crucifix where Christ bore God’s wrath and our pain. That was the only thing that could fix our brokenness. It wasn’t us trying harder; it was Christ giving everything. And that is where we must turn when we are drowning in waves of torrentless pain.

When we are in pain, we need to look to the cross. Not the empty cross. We need to turn our eyes to the crucifix where Christ bore God’s wrath and our pain.

Let your aching heart rest there. Rest in the reality of the crucifixion. Look to Christ’s death for healing. He died for your sin and your pain. Yes, He did rise from the grave three days later and conquered death, and we should celebrate that! But, don’t rush yourself past the crucifix. There, Christ suffered your personal hell, as well as the eternal Hell we all deserve.

This is mind-boggling. The Creator died for the creation? Yes, He did! And the crucifixion didn’t just display God’s justice. It also displayed how far He was willing to go to bring us into His family. He loves us ferociously. He chose death so that we could have life. He chose Hell so that we could spend eternity with Him. He bore our sorrows so that we could be free. He knows our pain intimately – far better than you or I ever will. He drank our pain to the dregs. God did not abandon us. He did not leave us in the emptiness of our pain. Instead, He filled it through His death. Our God does not let us suffer alone.

God did not abandon us. He did not leave us in the emptiness of our pain. Instead, He filled it through His death.

Dear reader, whatever pain you are facing, Jesus knows. He already bore it on the cross. God suffered for you. You are not alone in your pain. Even when the only thing you can see is pain, He is there. Even in this, He is with you. Turn your eyes to the body of Christ lifted on the cross and remember the dark side of the Gospel.

* * *

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:3-6, ESV

The Best Worst Thing – paultripp.com

Giving Thanks (Even When Life Stinks) – worldview.org

The Benefits of Baggage – thegospelcoalition.org

Amy Ballinger
Discipleship Director & Assistant Administrative Director at Worldview at the Abbey
Originally from north-central Oklahoma, Amy has been a part of Worldview Academy as a student, intern, discipleship staff member, discipleship staff director, and, currently, as an associate camp discipleship director. In August of 2016, Amy relocated to Cañon City, CO where she currently serves a Discipleship Director and the Assistant Administrative Director at the Worldview at the Abbey bridge year program, and enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and studying history, literature, and theology.

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