We spoke in an earlier podcast about suffering within a spiritual war. Today we will take a look at the larger role of suffering presented in the Bible. The reason for and the purpose of suffering is a significant contemplation.
It is comforting to know we are not alone in our suffering. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” – Hebrews 4:15 Jesus is our high priest. He is our savior. He is the King of the earth.
√ Jesus suffered. We can connect with Him in our suffering. He understands.
√ Mankind suffers. While some suffer more than others for sure, suffering is endemic to the human experience.
√ What we bring upon ourselves often causes us to suffer. Bad decisions. Selfishness. Ignorance. Greed. Unkindness to our brother. Arrogance.
√ What we bring upon others involves our connectedness with others. We are not islands. Our lives impact one another. We carry the weights of our choices when we either choose or choose not to love.
It is comforting to know that the Spirit feels the depths of both our weakness and our suffering. “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…” – Romans 8:26 Jesus gets us (in a Biblical way) and the Spirit understands us in a breath of God way.
One of the oldest books in the God Story (the Bible) is about a sage named Job. Job was wildly successful by human standards and enjoyed all the fruits of a blessed life. He had family, possessions, recognition as one of the foremost men of the east, and he was deeply committed to doing what is right.
Whatever you believe about good and evil, Job’s story is epic. The Good Creator invited the Slug of the universe to consider His servant Job. This same Creator allowed satan to take Job apart. He killed all his children, all his servants, all his livestock, his possessions were plundered, and his body was assaulted in the most horrifying ways. This is not chance chaos. It was targeted grief and profound loss. Soon his good friends arrived to explain his pain – in their own, non-comforting ways. And for all we can tell, Job doesn’t deserve one bit of his troubles. He not only was a good guy, he was a sharp guy, yet designed chaos overtook him like a whirlwind. Imperfection attacked him and turbulence engulfed him.
This is where we live as well, and, as much as we try to insulate ourselves from suffering, it inevitably overtakes us. We wrestle with questions like “What did I do to deserve this?” or “How could a loving God do this to me?” Job was encumbered with the deepest and saddest questions of life.
I have watched up close and personal as friends have suffered some great losses. I have been at the side of heart-wrenching, unfolding human suffering that make my eyes sting even now as I contemplate these losses. Tragic accidents. Suicides. Untimely deaths. Painful and searing loss. I have learned there are no adequate human words in the face of such suffering. There is no true human comfort for the hurting soul. Tragedy exacts suffocating fear.
So how do we respond when we see or experience suffering first hand?
√ We can become discouraged and give up on God.
√ We can persevere and see our faith expand and grow through turbulence.
√ We can submit to being shaped in ways we never would have chosen.
√ We can become embittered.
√ We can cling to the only One Who can deliver us through and beyond our pain.
Suffering hurts. Suffering shapes. Jesus is way ahead of us. God is Good – all the time.
Under the load and experiencing God-hope with you!
Dave and Burnadette