“What we do see is Jesus, who was given a position ‘a little lower than the angels’; and because He suffered death for us, He is now ‘crowned with glory and honor.’ Yes, by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that He should make Jesus, through His suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.” (Hebrews 2:9-10 NLT)
Not surprisingly, suffering is the major reason many refuse to come to the Savior. A friend who recently lost someone dear to him wrote in response to a note I sent him: “I’m hurt…I don’t want to be here. I don’t ever want to forget what I’m feeling. I feel absolutely livid, I feel cheated and betrayed by someone bigger than me that never heard my prayers and pain.”
It’s ironic on many levels that Jesus was the only sinless, perfect human being to ever live, yet suffered more than anyone has ever suffered or ever will suffer. But why? Why would a loving God allow His only Son to suffer, not only excruciating physical pain, but mental and emotional anguish the likes of which we have no capacity to understand?
Perhaps the Lord gave Paul insight into this question as revealed in his words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When we are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.“
The most common question asked in regard to suffering isn’t “Why did God suffer?’ rather it’s: “Why did God allow (cause) me to suffer?” We sometimes couch our anger at God in the generic version: “Why does God allow suffering?” The irony to me is that it’s a legitimate question, it’s just too often asked in a condescending way.
It’s almost as if we ask the question in a way that seems to imply that God couldn’t understand it. It seems that our concern rises from a misunderstanding of who God is. We wrongly assume that because God is perfect, all knowing, all loving, all caring, all powerful, ever present and possesses the many other attributes He has, that He’s somehow immune to suffering or heartache. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those rich attributes actually maximize His sensitivity to our needs and concerns. He feels deeply what we feel.
There’s a part of me that believes the very reason God formulated His plan for our salvation and oneness with Him through the horrendous death of His precious Son, was to capture our heart with the tremendous, sacrificial offering He was willing to make on our behalf. Jesus didn’t need to die for anything He had done wrong – He knew no wrong, no sin of any kind – not in mind, heart, soul, or body. He was completely innocent, yet voluntarily laid down His life, not only in death, but in His sinless life to suffer the same ways that we suffer. But why?
So, we could rest assured that whatever the source of our pain and suffering, we have an Advocate, a Friend, a Father, a Savior that perfectly understands and not only sympathizes with us, but empathizes with us in a way that no one can unless they’ve experienced the same pain, heartache, and suffering.
The irony to me is that people who are suffering blame God rather than embrace Him. Tim Keller said it well when he wrote: “God suffered to end evil without ending us.” To turn from God in our pain is to turn from our only source of help and from the only One who truly knows how we feel.
Food for thought.
Blessings, Ed 😊