The early Christians knew the pattern of cross and resurrection well. Next to the joyous knowledge of the new creation was a clear-eyed understanding of the reality of suffering in the world. This didn’t threaten their faith as they followed the pioneer who had gone before them. Suffering and failure are writ large in Saint Paul as he plunges into despair, is beaten and imprisoned, watches the churches he founded lurch into confusion, and sees his life’s work of reconciliation collapse in rioting. Yet in these struggles he senses that he is joined with the suffering of Jesus, and learning to trust in the love that bears and endures all.

We want a victorious God who crushes our enemies and makes everything right. Jesus has turned this around.