For many, the existence of pain and suffering extinguishes the possibility of God. For others the existence of pain and suffering, means that even if there was a God, he isn’t good, loving or kind. These people want nothing to do with a God who can be so cruel to stand by and allow evil to occur in the world.
The Human experience is filled with pain and troubles. It’s inevitable. If you’re human you’ve felt pain at some point in your life. On the news we hear reports of Hurricanes, Terrorist attacks, murders, rape… The immediate question on the lips of many is ‘where was God? Why would he allow this?’
Why would a loving God allow so much suffering and pain?
‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.’
James 1:2-4 (NKJV)
‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways…’
Isaiah 55:8 (NKJV)
As painful as our sufferings are, as excruciating as they may be; God has a greater plan far beyond our wildest imagination. Trust me, i know! You’re probably thinking ‘what kind of answer is that? Why do i have to suffer for reasons i’m not even aware of?’
Recently I went through a difficult situation and knowing these two scriptures I’d wake up everyday literally like ‘okay God! I see what you’re doing, this is to teach me humility right?! Wow, great I got it! God, can you please, please make it end now?
It’s funny because each day I’d come up with something new, I felt God was trying to teach me. I got frustrated however because it never got resolved how and when I wanted it to. It’s a hard fact, we all have plans but ultimately God’s ways are not our ways neither are his plans.
When we’ve prayed and pleaded with God about an issue; we can get to a stage where it’s easy to state that God doesn’t hear, care or even that he isn’t there. But when we take the story of Joseph we see that God had a greater plan for Joseph. His years of suffering and pain had simply moulded him and refined him into the man that God wanted him to be.
I’m sure you can identify that despite the fact that you wish you hadn’t gone through certain situations, at the end of it, there’s a maturity and a lesson. This is where we find ourselves saying if not for this situation, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
So this is God’s reasons, though you can’t see or understand it at the moment! Count it all Joy that God has his greater reasons that will ultimately work out for your good.
For some, you can’t relate or even accept this as an answer. There’s too much pain, loss and heartache. You haven’t or can’t see how your sufferings can ever turn out for your good.
Thankfully, for this we have Jesus Christ and the Cross.
The Suffering of Jesus Christ
‘For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.’
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)
‘This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do…’
Hebrews 4:15 (NLT)
A martyr is defined as someone who suffers much or is killed because of their religious beliefs. In many accounts these martyrs unwaveringly and boldly proclaim their faith up until their dying breath. These martyrs become aspirations for believers on how to behave in times of persecution.
Jesus, however at the hour of death was shaken and troubled with grief, ‘My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death:’. Jesus pleaded with the father for a way out, ‘O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:’. I think one thing that people overlook is the fact that Jesus became flesh! He felt every single whip, cut, pain! He felt it all. Jesus actually Suffered.
At the cross, Jesus doesn’t shout confident words as stoic martyrs wouldBottom of Form. At the point of death Jesus cries out to God , ‘my God why have you forsaken me?’.
“The cry has a ruthless authenticity…Jesus did not die renouncing God. Even in the inferno of abandonment he did not surrender his faith in God but expressed his anguished prayer in a cry of affirmation. “My God, my God.’” Jesus still uses the language of intimacy – “my God” – even as he experiences infinite separation from the Father.“
This is the suffering of God. As His child cried out to him for a way out, God had to let it happen- because of us. Jesus Christ had to be the offering for our sins.
Yes, It doesn’t explain why there is suffering in the world, but it answers this – Just because there is suffering in the world doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us.Instead, God uses the cross to comfort us and help us face the troubles and pain of this world. In that we have a God who has felt pain as we have felt, who has cried as we have cried, who has pleaded as we plead in times of adversities. It’s actually beautiful. God is with us in our pain. When we cry, he doesn’t scowl or frown at our weakness. Instead he embraces us; because he understands.
This is shown beautifully in the story of Mary and Lazarus.
When Mary came to Jesus and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” He asked.“Come and see, Lord,” they answered.
John 11:32-35 (NIV)
As soon as Mary sees Jesus, she asks the immediate question of many in times of trouble, ‘Where was God?’ – if God had been here this wouldn’t have happened.
Jesus rather than scowling at her lack of faith, ‘saw her weeping.. and was deeply moved’. Jesus cared, he understood the pain that she felt that he even cried with her! God understands and he’s with us every step of the way.
Suffering is such a fragile topic because it happens in different heights daily. If you’re reading this and you’ve been through or are going through an agonizing situation and pain; despite your situation, God still loves you. And he’s there, in the midst of it working it out for your good.
I know sometimes people want you to stay strong, keep a stoic demeanour.But actually it’s okay to cry, cry unto God because he’s there and he understands. He isn’t scowling or frowning at us when we cry. Rather, he’s with us deeply moved and troubled. This is our assurance – we have a God who can sympathize with our pain.
So Take heart and remember,
‘Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning’.
Psalm 30:5 (NLT)
Fys, Teni x