Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Suffering and the question of Why
My skin cancer is back - in two new places.
What is the point?
Why does Jesus allow suffering? Well, there are many reasons, but the one that I want to focus on is this. God uses pain, tragedy, loss and difficult relationships because these things bring to the surface characteristics of ours, nasty disgusting characteristics that remain hidden in times of ease.
Once we are aware of these characteristic we have the choice, the opportunity to decide - Do I pick up my cross, obey Jesus and allow Him to transform me into His likeness, or do I choose to disobey Jesus and carry on as per normal. That's one of the opportunities that comes through suffering.
Our hardships also bring us closer to Jesus.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2
Did you notice? We WILL go through deep waters, difficulty, oppression. Christians are not promised, nor should we expect to be spared the suffering and loss that comes with life on this planet. However, we who are part of God’s family can know beyond all doubt that our difficulties are not for nothing. They have meaning and context and purpose.
For atheists and pagans, life's difficulties are just an annoying and truly tragic waste of time. Something to be avoided at all cost. Something that usually drives them even further from God. Richard Dawkins has expressed amazement that trouble actually brings Christians closer to the One who brought or allowed the trouble to come into their lives. How could he think otherwise when the main goal of pagans is to create a life of ease?
When we who are citizens of Heaven grab hold of Jesus' hand and with eyes wide open step into life's suffering, we experience the power of the living God. "But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
“In all things (suffering, loss, tragedy) God works together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. In all these things (suffering, loss, tragedy) we are more than conquerors.”
The long and winding road of suffering is meant to bring us to obedience. I too, along with the apostle Paul thank God for another opportunity to draw closer to Him, to learn from Him, to realine my priorities.
Thank you Father for your love, and mercy and grace.