Suffering

With the terrible shooting in Connecticut last week I can’t help but think about how much suffering is in our world. Eighteen precious little kids had their lives cut short, moms and dads, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, are hurting. People die every day from abuse, from curable diseases, from starvation, from a lack of clean water. Jails and prisons are filled with hurting people who have hurt people. The world is filled with suffering. When considering this, it’s hard not to question God. If He’s so Good, why is there so much suffering? This question has stumped many and caused a lot of people’s faith to waiver.
I can’t say for sure I have the right answer. God didn’t send me a letter or write the explanation in the sky. But through a lot of prayer, time spent in His Word and through seeking His face in times of hurt, I believe He’s answered the question…

God knows suffering. It’s what makes Christianity different from every other religion. Not only because of the cross, but because He identifies with us every time we go through it. 

  1. Christ personally knows suffering because of the cross. Check out Luke 22:39-44, 

Jesus went out as usual<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> to the Mount of Olives,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(E)”> and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(F)”> from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(G)”> An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(H)”> And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.


Christ knew the pain He was going to endure on the cross before it even happened – He knew He was going to suffer so much He was in anguish and He sweated blood. Jesus knows suffering…much better than we do. 

2.  God identifies with us every time we suffer. Look at these
    verses,

  • Proverbs 14:31, Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.” – If we’re oppressed God feels it!
  • Proverbs 17:5, “Whoever mocks the poor<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> shows contempt for their Maker…” – If we’re mocked, God feels our pain.
  • Psalms 68:5, A father to the fatherless,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” – God identifies with us.
  • Psalms 56:8, Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll  are they not in your record?” – God has kept track of every tear you’ve cried and every single thing you’ve gone through.

Countless other similar verses are scattered throughout the Bible. I think God’s trying to tell us that He knows what we’re going through and that it hurts Him just as much as it hurts us.

But, counter to what some believe,

God doesn’t cause suffering.

Thinking about it logically, if God caused suffering, there would be suffering in Heaven. But since we know Heaven is perfect (see Revelation 7:16, 17), God can’t cause suffering.

So, God didn’t cause suffering, but He wants to help.

He’s with us and He never leaves us.

  • Matthew 28:20, “…And surely I am with you<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> always, to the very end of the age.”
  • Hebrews 13:5, “…Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16, Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”
  • Romans 8:38-39, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”>nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Christ personally knows what it’s like to suffer, He identifies with us every time we go through it, He didn’t cause it, but He wants to help.
It’s vitally important that we don’t get so caught up in the circumstances that we miss the miracles Christ is doing through the situation.
Look at mark 6:45-48, Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida,<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them,”

The disciples were so busy focusing on their storm that they almost missed Jesus walking on water! Think about this…they were out in the middle of the lake, meaning Jesus probably had to walk half a mile or a mile to get to them. On water. He walked on water! And they almost missed it!
It sounds silly, but we have to be careful that we don’t get so caught up in our storms, our situations, our suffering, that we miss the awesome miracles Christ is doing.
I firmly believe God doesn’t cause suffering, but that He takes bad situations that have happened and does something good with them.
After all, Christ took a bad situation (me, a sinner) and made it something good (I’m now a saint). 

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