Where is God when we experience the evil of the world?
He is right there with us…
I have posted ideas about the source of suffering, emphasizing that the source of suffering is not God; it is man. However, it is a common idea that when people suffer, God is uncaring.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Paul Little writes, when it comes to physical or mental suffering, “God is not a distant, aloof, impervious potentate, far removed from His people and their sufferings. He not only is aware of suffering—He feels it.” Outside Lazarus’ tomb, in the face of death for a dear friend, Jesus “wept” with indignation. He wept over Jerusalem, and uttered a sad lament over her blindness and obstinacy. And still today He is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses” (see Mark 3:5; John 11:35, 38; Luke 13:34, Luke19:41). The writer to the Hebrews summed it up well, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15).
As we near Easter week, we are confronted with the suffering of Christ on the cross.
We get it. As Christ suffered, so did God.
Dr. Myron Taylor on writing about God and suffering tells the tale of the medieval monk: “A popular monk in the Middle Ages announced that in the Cathedral that evening he would preach a sermon on the love of God. The people gathered and stood in silence waiting for the service while the sunlight streamed through the beautiful windows. When the last bit of color had faded from the windows the old monk went to the candelabrum, took a lighted candle and walking to the life-size statue on the cross, held the light beneath the wounds on Jesus’ feet, then His hands, then His side. Then, still without a word, he let the light shine on the thorn-crowned brow. That was his sermon. The people stood in silence and wept, every one knowing that they were at the center of a mystery beyond their knowing, that they were indeed looking at the love of God—a love so deep, so wide, so eternal that no words could express it and no mind could measure it.”
I have a son who is attending a family funeral for a young woman from his wife’s family, his wife’s cousin. I have talked to him and I have heard him say things that tell me he is struggling to make some meaning of it all. He wonders about why this woman has died so young. He can’t fathom why this had to happen. What is the purpose of it all? I don’t have the answers. I just told him to have faith that God is behind it all somehow. God is the anchor that you have to hold onto when these things happen. That is the way to get through these times.
I have gone through these times myself as many of you have. I have learned that God is right there, right in the middle of the sorrow. Dr. Taylor states “When you climb the steep mountain, or walk through the dark valley, when your heart is aching, and your eyes are blinded with tears—you can count on it—God cares. You feel so shut out, so cut off, so alone. But you are not alone. Through the Holy Spirit God is present with you as He was present with God’s suffering people in Egypt, with Job in his trials and tribulations, as He was present with Jesus in Gethsemane and on the cross. ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’, is a promise you can count on. When the tragedies of life crash upon us, when shock and deep sorrow come to our lives, God’s great heart is the first to break. Our God is the God who suffers with us.”
Isaiah 53:3 “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Hebrews 2:18 “Because He himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.”
These and many other scriptures from the Bible say it all…
God is not aloof.
God is right in the middle of what we are going through.
He feels our suffering. He offers His solace. He shares His strength.