A different perspective on suffering
It’s a common human experience to face betrayal, deception, hurt and emotional pain. We tend to blame the other person but here’s a surprising revelation about God in Lamentations:
30 Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them and accept the insults of their enemies.
31 For no one is abandoned by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
33 For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow (Lam. 3:30-33).
What caught my attention in this passage was that God abandons people (v31), God brings grief (v32). There has to be something more happening when we are suffering.
To be clear, God is reluctant to afflict us since he delights in having mercy --it is not in His nature for He doesn’t enjoy hurting people (v33). Affliction, wrath and judgment are foreign acts of God that are inevitably associated with sin.
"6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way" (Heb. 12:6-11).
God wants us to learn obedience through our patience and resignation. Rather than being overwhelmed by our suffering, we should be overwhelmed by our sins. Even Jesus suffered because of His identification with us in all of our troubles.
“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (Heb. 4:15).
Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered (Heb. 5:8). Our often just and fair sufferings and misplaced indignation pale into comparison to Jesus who suffered unjustly and unfairly for our sins. In all of His sufferings He wasn’t indignant or stand on His rights. He forewent all of that for us.
“He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth” (Isa. 53:7).
We have a Saviour who suffered just like us, and more so, so that we can be free. Next time you feel upset by your troubles and woes remember your sin and look to Jesus, who overcame all of our trials, betrayals and evil circumstances for you to be free.
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All quotations are from the NLT.