On Suffering

Life in this world guarantees us three things: taxes, suffering, and death. Of course, there are seasons of happiness and times of celebration, and some have more of the happy times than the sad. Yet, no one escapes the hard times. The hardest thing I think any of us have to do in life is sit by and watch someone else suffer. Usually we can justify our own suffering in some manner or another, but watching someone else suffer as we sit there powerless to stop it is much, much harder.

This angst, this desire to rise up and crush injustice, this need to do something to prevent suffering in the lives of our loved ones is because we know that something is wrong. And I don’t mean wrong in a particular situation. When we come across the kind of suffering that drives us to our knees…it makes us face the reality that something is wrong with the world. That there is something not right with the whole of creation. That pit in our stomach when we fall to our knees and our eyes fill with tears. That is God’s grace toward us shouting

SOMETHING! IS! WRONG! HERE!

The pain we feel is God waking us up to the reality that we live in a broken, fallen world. God’s good creation overrun by sin and death and Satan. It forces us to break out of our daily routine and look for answers. It compels us to look for hope!

And hope we have, because “God did not spare his own Son” (Romans 8:32) and “made him who knew no sin to be sin” (2 Cor. 5:21) so that He might redeem and restore. The Father sent his own Son to live a perfect live that we could never live, die a death that we fully deserve, and raised Him back to life again. He did all of this for a multitude of reasons, and part of that is to redeem us as people so that we can once again have an unhindered relationship with God and recognize Him as the Lord over all creation.

Part of that is also to redeem and restore the whole of creation by defeating Satan through his death on the cross so that he “…might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil…” (Heb. 2:14). He died and rose again to defeat Satan and sin and death once and for all.

Death has been defeated! Satan has been defeated!

JESUS IS ALIVE!!!

Yet, we still suffer. We suffer because even though Christ has defeated Death and Satan we still live in a broken world eagerly awaiting the return of the King. Why would a loving God allow this suffering to continue? Why would a merciful God allow a world to continue to exist when there has already been a decisive victory?

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

God is waiting patiently for the lost to repent. He is waiting for his enemies to confess Him as Lord and trust Him as Savior (Romans 5:10). God knows that our life on this earth is a blink of an eye compared with eternity. Knowing this, it would in fact be cruel to return swiftly to end momentary suffering when doing so would result in eternal suffering in Hell.

So, God waits patiently for us, giving us strength in times of suffering because we have a High Priest and Brother who is able to sympathize with us and has felt suffering as we feel it and because we have a Father who has had to watch His own Son die a horrific death. God knows and understands and has felt the pain we feel when suffering strikes, and He cares so much about His glory and our good that He shed his own blood as the means to heal the whole of creation.

The real tragedy of all of this is that there are many who will see the suffering of this world, brought on by the hands of the Devil, and turn and blame God for it. They ignore the shouts of God and harden their hearts and blame God for the Devil’s work. They can’t fathom a good God allowing suffering on Earth to exist and therefore remain condemned to an eternity of suffering (John 3:18).

Christians, we must be able to address this tragic irony. We must be able to point to Christ as the hope in times of suffering. We must be able to apply the gospel as a salve to the open wounds of the hurting and broken. A broken and dying world depends on it.

If Jesus isn’t your Lord and Savior…please, stop running. Don’t be tricked into thinking that God’s patience is weakness or a lack of compassion, because it’s just the opposite. Don’t try to out think God or out-logic the One from whom all sense of reason flows. Don’t let momentary suffering pave the way to an eternity of suffering.

Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus.

Then join with the Church as we eagerly wait for Christ’s return when He makes all that’s sad become untrue.

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