The question of suffering is one of life’s biggest questions.
Any loss, loss of livelihood, health, loved ones is shocking to us, as it should be.
The unspeakable tragedy of loss is compounded by the loss of innocent life and the suffering of innocent people.
Men, women and children needlessly suffer and die amidst violence, cruelty and neglect.
We are left to ask,”Why did God allow this to happen?”
When we experience loss,”Why!”,is the first thing that comes to mind.
There are no pat answers,… but we can find deeper reason and comfort in knowing we are not alone.
God chose to experience loss for our sakes.
God came down to us in the personage of Jesus Christ and suffered and died for us to spare us eternal suffering.
God the Father turned away from Christ on the Cross, prompting Jesus Christ to cry out,”My God, My God,WHY have you forsaken me?”
God as the man Jesus Christ felt the agony of loss and asked WHY?
The Bible tells us God did this because He loves us.He became one of us, struggled like we do, tempted in every way as us yet without giving in to sin.
And He suffered to a degree that we have not, and can not, for He alone was perfect and worthy to carry all the sins of our entire human race.
Christ paid for the sins all mankind from Adam to the last of our kind who will be born.
Christ carried every sin ever committed, or that will be committed, by every victim and by every perpetrator, who ever lived or has yet live, upon Him on the cross.
And the punishment of us all was upon Him.
“Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”
Because of Christ we know that the reason suffering exists can NOT be that God is insensitive to our condition.
Perhaps part of the reason is to make us what C.S.Lewis called, “Free Lovers.” We love God not for what He gives , but simply for the sake of whom He is.
If , like the old testament figure from the Bible, Job, we can love God regardless of total tragedy and loss, then our love for God will be like the love God has for us! Unconditional.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
(1 John 4:10)
God’s love is Unconditional love.
Tim Keller uses the illustration from the Book of Job in the Bible to show that Satan tried to make God question Job’s love for God. Satan accused Job of conditional love.“Take away everything you have blessed him with and he will curse you!”, he said to God.
And God permitted Satan to take all of Job’s children, possessions and wealth.
When Job still blessed God, then Satan insisted if God allowed physical suffering then Job would curse God.
Job did become very bitter, but did not curse God.
…”Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“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.”
” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
It really is all about Love.
Satan tried to convince Job that God did not unconditionally love him, just as Satan tried to convince God that Job didn’t unconditionally love God.
And perhaps then our suffering, like Job’s, has profound reason and eternal purpose.
To refine our love into the kind of love Christ has for us.
For He loved us before we knew Him.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Related Sermon by Dr. Tim Keller of Manhattan Presbyterian Church Manhattan N.Y.-