Some years ago I read Miroslav Volf’s Exclusion and Embrace, (Nashville: Abingdon, 1996). I really enjoyed it. Here are some insightful words from the book regarding suffering and the cross.
All sufferers can find comfort in the solidarity of the Crucified; but only those who struggle against evil by following the example of the Crucified will discover him at their side. To claim the comfort of the Crucified while rejecting his way is to advocate not only cheap grace but a deceitful ideology. (Page 24)
In a world of violence, the Cross, that eminently counter-cultural symbol that lives at the heart of the Christian faith, is a scandal… there is no genuinely Christian way around the scandal. In the final analysis, the only available options are either to reject the cross and with it the core of the Christian faith or to take up one’s cross, follow the Crucified—and be scandalized ever anew by the challenge. (page 26)
As the Gospel of Mark reports, the first disciples followed and were scandalized (14:26ff.). Yet they continue to tell the story of the cross, including the account of how they abandoned the Crucified. Why? Because precisely in the scandal, they have discovered a promise. In serving and giving themselves for others (Mark 10:45), in lamenting and protesting before the dark face of God (15:34), they found themselves in the company of the Crucified. In his empty tomb they saw the proof that the cry of desperation will turn into a song of joy and that the face of God will eventually “shine” upon a redeemed world. (pages 26–27)