I think one of the things that people struggle with, whether or not they believe in God, is why suffering exists. In the believer’s mind, why does he allow it. In the unbeliever’s mind, why should I believe in a God who allows it. There are many great minds out there who have made it a personal mission to search for answers to these deep questions. I have been alive long enough to know what suffering is to some extent. Suffering exists in many forms, but I have not had to endure even a small fraction as what others have. Though to the one suffering, theirs seems to be unique in every way, separate from others. That is because it is personal suffering and you will feel no suffering stronger than your own.
I’ve wrestled with the question, why suffering. I’ve heard many opinions on the topic and even formed some beliefs of my own. Like it or not, suffering isn’t going away any time soon that we know of. People have told me they once believed in God but endured a personal crisis, or that of a loved one, that caused them to see things differently. My heart goes out to them. Five years ago, I started a pursuit. Up until that point, I believed in God. I was brought up in a Christian home and taught to believe in the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I kept hearing about Jesus Christ and wanted to know more about his life here. I started reading the Gospel of John. Afterward, I read Matthew, Mark, and Luke. My pastor at the time was in a three-year study of the life of Jesus and taught on that topic every Sunday.
I asked myself a question, if God did take on the form of a man, then that would separate him from any other Deity of any religion. While I could not understand everything with timing, what I could see was how Jesus came and lived as a man. He witnessed the human condition of suffering by surrounding himself with it. He went to people that were shunned, outcasts in their communities. He saw value in people that others discarded. Crowds followed him wherever he went. There is no doubt he was wise and powerful because he shook up everything. As a man, Jesus was susceptible to the same emotions you and I are. He could have felt pain, sorrow, grief, and anger. The Bible clearly states he did. The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, where it says, “Jesus wept.” Why would he weep? It is a good question to dwell on for a while. I have speculated the answer but do not think it is limited to just one.
Even when we completely believe an outcome to be true, knowing this in our hearts still does not remove the pain and suffering we must endure. When my brother died when I was 25, I believed in my heart then that one day I would see him again in Heaven. Yet, the grief and sorrow I’ve known at times early on were unbearable. Yet, somehow, I was sustained through them all.
In the time Jesus lived, Jewish people were being persecuted by the Romans. The disciples followed Jesus around and believed him to be the Messiah, the one who would bring in a new kingdom. When his body ended up crucified on a cross it seemed that everything they believed in, and the one they believed in, was for nothing. All their hopes seemed to disappear in one day. Jesus told them earlier on that he would be leaving. The disciples were distraught that the one they followed would go where they could not follow. But he assured them, in John 14:16, that he would ask the Father to send a comforter, a helper. The Spirit of truth was sent.
During our suffering, we succumb to just about anything to deal with it. I have come to rely on many things over the course of my lifetime. All have satisfied for a brief time but soon left me empty and unfulfilled. The world offers hope in a bottle. Some pay only once, a small price. Others pay twice, the second time with their health, or even their life. Anything else the world has to offer peace comes at a price. If you do not pay, you cannot have it. What hope then shall we have if we cannot pay the price? In a world that was broken and twisted by our evil hearts, God sent his son and established a new covenant. In order to save the world, he had to watch his only son be crucified by the hands of his own creation. Jesus cried out in Matthew 27:46, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
Yes, God is all too familiar with suffering. While I do not understand why it exists, I’ve chosen to believe that God is just. If a person chooses not to believe in God because he allows suffering, the suffering will continue to exist long after your pronounced unbelief. I ask, in what do you place your hope in to endure suffering? In people of corruptible hearts, of whom all but one has failed? In governments, which have risen and fallen numerous times? In a substance, which when not available, leaves you powerless to endure a crisis?
By faith in God through Christ, I believe that he is with me at all times because his spirit lives within me. God is fully aware of my environment and circumstances. When trouble arises, the moment I turn to him, he is there. Always. Peace is made available. I don’t have to wait until a store opens to buy it. I don’t have to worry about it being stripped away by another person. He helps me endure every trial, every struggle. All this has been available to anyone, anywhere, anytime, all for no cost to them. But bear in mind, there was a price and it was higher than any of us could ever imagine. God sent his son, who paid this price with his life. What greater price can someone pay than with their own life?
God meets me in my suffering. In what, or whom, meets you in yours?
Categories: Love God