(Continuing from yesterday. Want to catch up? Click here)
Suffering is hard to endure
Going back to Job, we see a man who is the bill gates of time. And through the course of his life, he loses everything he owns…his whole business. And then to add insult to injury, he loses his family as well.
How did job respond when the dust settled and he was left alone? We read that Job, “Got up, tore his robe and shaved head.” I this day, this was the cultural response to show that he’s struggling with pain, anguish, deep sorrow…in this act he’s saying that he is feeling everything he can possibly feel.)
Honestly, what else would a person do? Honestly, when it comes down to it, suffering isn’t really a philosophical problem, is it? Most people who don’t/can’t believe in God is almost always because of something they suffered. Nobody says, in the midst of pain, “I love this!”
Notice, though, how Job Responds; The Bible says, “Then he fell to the ground in worship.”
Job understood there was more going on than just pain. That leads us to ask, was job just blind? Or does he know something we don’t?
People tend to believe that to follow Christ, you need to have blind faith, ignore reality, ignore honest questions, and real pain. I would argue Job knows something else. Let’s look at how he responds in Chapter 1:20,
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”
- He is not in charge of his life: Naked he came from womb…”
- Life is a gift: Lord gave and took away.
- God can order his life as he sees fit
- Submission and not bitterness: “May the name of the Lord be praised” (Hardest for modern people)
In job we see a beautiful example of how we might respond to suffering in our lives. But that’s not always the easy, or natural way to deal with it, is it?
Often we choose 1 of 3 ways to respond to pain or hurt in our lives:
Ignore it: All over the interwebs, we’ve see a sign popping up that reminds us to “Stay calm and carry on.” That sign found its origin back in WWII England, and was the attempt of the government to encourage the British citizens to hold on. It was a reminder to ignore the present pain and hope for the day when we all have made it through our present suffering. Basically, it’s a call to grin and bear it.
Fight it: We fight God. Angry at his “lack of action…and in our anger we find we begin to despise or hate God. We find our anger has put a hard part in our heart. And as we continue to fight God, that hardness grows and grows.
Embrace it: We treat God like a parachute. Know it’s there…just hope don’t have to use it. So often, we don’t need God in those happy moments, do we? In those moments when we wouldn’t change a thing, we carry on the way we believe life should be.
But often what god is doing through our suffering and pain is he is getting our attention. Lewis wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasure and shouts in our pain.”
The truth is very difficult to hear, but it is extremely beautiful. If God is really interested in our Goodness, he’ll do whatever it takes to get our attention.
God suffers, too. He’s not removed. He’s in the pain, walking through it with us.
The cross is the visual example of a God suffering for the acts of Human injustice. Jesus, with his death on the cross, was the victim of each and every one of our wrongs. He suffered and unjust trial and an execution reserved for criminals of the worst kind.
It was in this taking of our sins that he experienced the worst kind of pain- the pain of separation and of loss from someone he loved.
Tim Keller said it like this: “There may be no greater inner agony than the loss of a relationship we desperately want. If a mild acquaintance turns on you, condemns and criticizes you, and says he never wants to see you again, it is painful. If someone you’re dating does the same this, it is qualitatively more painful. But if your spouse does this to you, or if one of your parents does this to you when you’re a child, the psychological damage is infinitely worse.”
He goes on to say: “We cannot fathom, however, what it would be like to lose not just a spousal love or parental love that has lasted several years, but the infinite love of the Father that Jesus had from all eternity. Jesus’ suffering would have been eternally unbearable.”
That’s the beauty of the Kingdom of God. When life, the world, evil, suffering or any other force throws us to the ground, kicks us in the gut. We have a savior who, not only wipes our tears from our eyes, but we have a savior who is empathetic to our suffering and is joining us in our heartache
Think about that. Can you really grasp that concept?
And Christ takes that beauty to the next level. He not only comforts us in our moments of grief, but he also takes our suffering and redeems our pain.
What God is attempting to do is not just get our attention, but also trying to redeem our pain and use that to bless and minister to someone else.
Suffering isn’t the end.
Ultimately, the most beautiful part in all of this is the fact that the last word isn’t the cross. The last word is the resurrection.
So, while you and I find ourselves in a world that is filled with pain, tears and suffering. We know that we’re heading for a world in which all tears will be wiped from our eyes, and a world that has found justice, peace and joy restored.
We serve a God who promises that suffering isn’t the last word. Hope is.