At church this morning, the pastor was preaching about a story in Luke 7, in which Jesus raises from the dead a widow’s only son, who died at a young age. This story has troubled me somewhat. V 13 says that the Lord had compassion for the widow woman, and I one time heard a Bible study group’s leader say that the lesson here is that God has a tender heart for our suffering. But my problem is this: If God has a tender heart for our suffering, why does God allow our suffering? Granted, Jesus felt compassion for that widow woman when he was on earth, and he raised the woman’s son from the dead. But that’s a rare occurrence. There are plenty of people out there in the world who lose children to death at a young age, and those children are not raised from the dead.
The pastor said that Jesus’ raising of people from the dead during his earthly ministry may have foreshadowed his own resurrection, in which Jesus would defeat death. The pastor was saying that Jesus tells us today amidst our problems what he told the widow woman in v 13: weep not. The reason is that Jesus’ resurrection has brought us the hope that death is not the last word.
Perhaps believing in Jesus’ resurrection can provide people with hope. In my opinion, though, that depends on how inclusive one’s view of salvation is. If I have to believe that people will go to hell if they died before saying some prayer, then I wouldn’t have that much hope. Sure, I’d be happy that I’d see my departed Christian friends or loved-ones in the afterlife, but I’d be sad that I couldn’t see non-Christian friends or loved ones—-that they’d be in hell.