A few years ago, during Christmas, I remembered my dog became sick. He was hardly eating and was not really that active as he once were. We knew there was something wrong. We brought him to the vet and he had to stay there for a few days. I remembered feeling sad because I had to leave him there knowing that my dog was suffering, even in pain. Yes, dogs suffer too. As I remembered that moment, I can’t help but think how suffering is different with people. We, as human beings, when we suffer, it is a lot more different than when dogs suffer. Not that dogs don’t have any value, but when people suffer, we tend to be more aware with our suffering and that makes it a more painful suffering compared to what dogs would feel when they suffer. But think about it, how much more when God suffers? The only way God can feel suffering, is when He becomes man and feel what man feels when there is pain and grief. That’s exactly what we are remembering during Holy Week. It is the truth that God became man, to suffer and die a painful and humiliating death for sinners like you and me. At the same time, we as humans are not exempted from any suffering in this world. All of us at some point, experience a kind of suffering that causes pain, grief and a lot of uncertainties.
But here’s a question that we all ask when it comes to suffering: If God loves us, then why does He allow us to suffer?
Well, one thing is for sure, He couldn’t be the author of suffering (James 1:13-17). God couldn’t be the reason why there is suffering in this world. Sometimes, it’s because of our own stubbornness and brokenness (lying, anger, immorality, crime, etc.) that’s why we suffer and more than that, it is because sin corrupted our whole world, that’s why this world is broken and deteriorating (Romans 8:20-22).
But the harder question to answer is this: Why does God allow it? Why doesn’t He stop it?
I’ll tell you this, we can’t completely understand why God allows our suffering and why He hasn’t fully stop suffering in this world yet. But the Bible says that for everyone who believes in Christ, suffering will eventually end (Revelation 21:4).
We can’t really also make a conclusion that because we suffer, therefore, there is no God. Believing that there is no God, doesn’t even make our suffering easier, it just makes us hopeless.
Also, we can’t make a conclusion that because there is suffering, therefore, God doesn’t love us. Because, if He doesn’t love us, then why did Jesus bother to suffer on the cross for us? Why go through all of His own suffering for us, if He indeed doesn’t love us?
Isaiah 53:3-12 – He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
The reason for suffering couldn’t be because of God’s indifference. It couldn’t be because of His hate towards us. It couldn’t be because He doesn’t love us. The Bible reminds us that, there is a God that we can trust even in the midst of suffering. And that because God suffered for us, it tells us that He does love us and that He does care for us, or else He wouldn’t even bother to suffer for us in the first place.
During Jesus’ time, the cross was a picture of shame, humiliation and suffering, but when Jesus suffered and died on the cross for us, it showed us another picture, it gave the cross a whole new meaning.
A wise man once said;
“Paint my love. You should paint my love. It’s the picture of a thousand sunsets”
Of course I’m kidding! A singer once said and sang that, not a wise man! haha. Ask those people older than you what that song was, we used to sing it in our karaoke!
My point is this; if God would paint a picture of His love for us, He would paint the picture of the cross. It’s at the cross where God’s picture of love started to unfold. It’s also at the cross where we can see God’s love in its fullest form.
John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
The cross reminds us that, yes suffering is real but in Christ, it will come to an end. The cross reminds us that pain will not last, that joy comes in the morning, that Easter is waiting, that death has no sting. The cross reminds us that when we do suffer, it gives us that hope and certainty that there is a God who wants to be with you and wants to love you all through out the pain and grief.
When we suffer, it is not the answers to our questions that will help us overcome the pain in our suffering, but it is the hope and assurance that Jesus is with us and that’s what makes our suffering worthwhile. It’s in believing and trusting that when we suffer, there is Someone who will never leave us nor forsake us.
“Jesus did not abandon us despite all his own suffering. Do you think he would abandon you now in the midst of yours?” Tim Keller