READ: Luke 23:39-43
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
People respond to suffering in different ways. Some people get angry. Some people choose to withdraw. Some people spiral into a dark place. Some turn to vices to sooth the suffering. Regardless of how you react, suffering is an inescapable aspect of life. Helen Keller famously said, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” You can’t avoid it, but you can overcome it.
Jesus was innocent, but He was executed like a traitor. To make things even worse, He was positioned between two criminals who deserved to be up there. Each of these men responded to their suffering in very different yet relatable ways. The first challenged God and questioned His power. The second acknowledged his desperation and asked for help. Jesus looked over at the second criminal and said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus invited Him to experience oncoming glory despite the present agony. This passage is a reminder to us about how we should respond to pain. Look to Jesus and ask for help. There can be triumph on the other side of trauma.
Jesus’s bones were broken, and His body was bruised. He faced extreme affliction, so He understands your pain. Suffering makes us feel broken and bruised, too. It’s almost as if our lives crash to the ground like shattered glass and we are stuck picking up the pieces. However, Jesus’s words from the cross remind us that God can help us supernaturally piece the shards back together. Imagine stained glass in an old church. When the glass pieces are put back together, they can make something beautiful— especially when there is light inside. Let Jesus be your light in times of suffering. God makes beautiful things out of broken pieces.