Everywhere we look there is chaos…
I imagine as things seem to be falling apart around the world, people are wondering, “Where is God?” It is a reasonable question as it can appear that He is silent, permitting suffering to happen that by nature, we are told He has the power to prevent and control. Yet in spite of this power, suffering continues. Something is wrong here, right? It then begs important questions:
Is God real?
Does He actually care about what is going on?
Does He hear our cries and prayers?
Is He as powerful as He says He is?
No matter how much I theologically know about God, no matter how many apologetic arguments I can give you about Him, the truth is that the human issue of pain and suffering are powerful counter arguments. And for good reason. We are told that God is perfectly Good, all-powerful and just and that all these qualities He possesses to infinitude. So naturally there would be a confusion as to His nature and all that is going on.
In my own experience, I have spoken to countless people who struggled with their faith because of the way the world is today or the pain and suffering they have personally gone through. While I can answer people theologically, the reservations and objections lie at the heart and are not merely philosophical. We want to know God sees, cares and is working for us.
So how do we reconcile what we see and what we believe?
I think the best way to answer these questions is to look at God’s relationship and knowledge of man’s suffering. For this, I am going to look at the life of one whose suffering affected God in a way that is unique to anyone else who’s ever lived.
As Christians, we believe that Jesus was both fully God and man, theologically what we call the Hypostatic union. Because Jesus’ relationship to God was as Son and flesh, His suffering relationship with the Father is unique. As God’s Son, Jesus’ suffering answers whether God knows and cares about our own pain. The relationship between Jesus and the Father is not superficial but precious, one of a Father and His Son. Therefore we know that the relational difficulty of suffering doesn’t escape God.
I don’t think man can ever fully comprehend what happened between the Godhead at Calvary. It is definitely Holy ground that I tremble to write about. What I do know is that Calvary affirms that God understands the nature of the broken heart and the profound sorrow that comes from pain and suffering.
As flesh, Jesus personally experienced suffering in a very human sense. Because of the humanity of Jesus, God deeply knows the pain and suffering we experience as humans. Jesus lived this life. He saw the pain, brokenness, war, loss, sin and illness we go through. He felt it and lived it and wept. He experienced loneliness, rejection, fear, temptation, sorrow, grief, and betrayal. He was gossiped about; He was devalued, mocked and humiliated; He was mistreated and abandoned by those He loved; He was double-crossed by a good friend; His nature was called into question; His name was blasphemed; His character was assaulted. Those are some of the emotional, heart experiences God is personally acquainted with…circumstances we share in common between us and the Lord. Furthermore Jesus saw and experienced social and economic injustice, the disparity of wealth, corrupt governments, hypocritical spiritual leaders and false professing believers.
In a physical way Jesus went hungry and thirsty, felt the power of temptation, was physically tired to the point of exhaustion, experienced fear, was beaten and treated with cruelty and violence, was hung on a cross, felt the unimaginable wrath of God and lastly He experienced physical death.
Does God care about our pain and suffering? He not only cares, He is intimately, experientially and personally aware of pain and suffering.
To be sure, God is not silent, nor is He apathetic or indifferent. He sees the sin, injustice, death, disease, and brokenness all around us. He sees whats happening in other countries where murder, rape and terror are as common as the rising and setting of the sun. No sin, act of depravity or rebellion will be left without justice.
Do not fret because of evildoers, or be envious of the wicked; for there will be no future for the evil man; the lamp of the wicked will be put outProverbs 24:19-20
If you are suffering dear friend, don’t lose heart. Be comforted knowing that in this world, full of billions upon billions of people, God sees you personally and knows the very depths of your situation. He loves you and cares for you more than you can comprehend. So while you may not be removed from the furnace at this moment, I pray that you’d feel His peace. If you are overcome by all the suffering around you, know that one day soon God will restore creation to perfection. No matter your situation, He is there…He has already provided for your deliverance in eternity past. Don’t lose heart!
He is the answer.