In the world where humans live, suffering is. It’s one of those obvious impediments in our world that tempts us to question, even to doubt, God’s love for us. This is one reason we must be well acquainted with Jesus. His mission on earth offers us important insights on suffering.
As a fully human embodiment of God, Jesus came to earth to make LIFE available to us. In taking on this mission he fully immersed himself into the same experiences we have as humans – temptations, hunger, tiredness, rejection, pain and suffering, even death. He experienced all of the negatives that living in the fallen world has to offer. He didn’t merely send a message on social media to warn us and coach us about how to avoid all the pitfalls we face here. He chose to get his hands dirty and bloody and experienced all that we experience and more. He knows what it’s like to be in our shoes. Through it all never once did he abandon his trust in Father.
Our world offers us shortcuts to help make it easy to cope with all the disappointments, discouragements and disasters that we encounter on Earth. Those shortcuts, however, seldom if ever lead us to greater trust in God. Rather they nurture self-reliance and dependence on resources other than God. They might seem like attractive options at the time but they inevitably lead to failure and shallowness in our relationship with God. In short, they rob of us the very LIFE Jesus offers us, the power to live here just as Jesus did.
Jesus’ suffering, especially his commitment to press through all the way to death on the cross, has not only changed our standing before God, it has also changed the way we can respond to suffering. Since Jesus lives in us and we live in him, now when suffering of any sort comes our way – and it very likely will – we can receive it like Jesus did. It becomes an opportunity to strengthen our reliance on God to see how he will deliver us through it, rather than something to be avoided and be defeated by. It is a chance to experience LIFE as Jesus did and to be conformed to his image.