You mean, God “PLANNED” our adoption into His family so it would include PAIN and SUFFERING?
Of course He did! God, being the author of salvation, could have designed the way of salvation to be obtained any way He wanted and certainly that plan could have been without any pain and suffering. But He didn’t. God planned for Jesus, His only Son, to become almost overwhelmed with having to embrace “the cup” God had planned for Him. So much so, He confessed to His disciples in the garden, “My soul is overwhelmed with the sorrow to the point of death.” Even His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground as He deeply contemplated the path God had planned for Him.
God planned for Jesus to be beaten until He almost died. He planned for Jesus to be crucified on a cross, the most torturous way for Him to die. But Jesus’ suffering for us went so much deeper than the physical pain He endured, that you and I most often are repulsed by and reduced to tears by. Jesus was about to become “sin for us”! SIN for YOU and for ME! Jesus, who was without SIN! And His Father hates sin! And not just sin for you and me, but sin for all and for all time. I cannot even begin to imagine, with my human-mind, what that was like for Jesus, our Creator God clothed in human flesh, or what it really entailed. Nor do I have a clue about what truly happened between God the Father and God the Son at that moment in time.
When Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?”, we have no idea all the implications which accompanied His exclamation. We just cannot comprehend it because…we are not God. But once again, we are trying to make sense of the Creator God–creator of all we can see and all we cannot see–and His plans with our finite limited human minds. Jesus, the Son of God, fully man and fully God proclaimed to the world that the One He was One with had forsaken Him. What did God feel in the midst of all of this? But, what would cause Jesus to shout such a question to His Father that would be recorded and shared forevermore? Was it simply the result of the physical pain He was having to endure? It was not. Was it a fulfillment of prophecy? Yes, but it was more. This is the same Jesus that took His own life, “gave up His spirit”, when He had completed the Father’s will on that cross. This plan of God’s, this plan of salvation for you and for me, this was how God wanted to prove to us His love for us. Through so much pain and suffering?!? YES! Strange, isn’t it? Ironic, isn’t it? That an ALL-LOVING God would use the very thing you and I think HIS LOVE could never encompass–pain and suffering–to draw us into relationship with Him. And yet, that IS the very way God chose to prove His love to you and to me then and that IS the very way God chooses to continue to prove His love to you and to me, everyday…through our pain and suffering!
I am not gonna list for you the many ways we mistreat each other, because it would never encompass all and it would be too convicting to do so. Ask His Spirit to show you how you harm each other, brothers and sisters, with words and actions, and lack thereof. This is a prayer God will answer faithfully, I know. And I am not gonna list for you every way you and I break our Father’s heart when we refuse to accept His best for us without a fight. Just ask God’s Holy Spirit to show you the error of your ways…trust me, He will!
You and I both know how hard and how painful this journey with each other can be sometimes. Sadly, I am reminded of two infamous statements ascribed to you and to me. “Christians shoot their wounded” and “If it weren’t for Christians, I would be a Christian” (Gandhi).
Strange…or is it…the vast majority of the scriptures are focused on how we are to treat one another…as brothers and sisters? Ultimately, God knew that would be our greatest challenge on this planet. Loving one another. However, that is exactly what Jesus told us in John would be the path all others would know Who’s we are, “By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” We DO so many things to “show” others we are disciples of Christ. So many things. If we stopped doing and simply began loving one another, everyone will know we are His disciples. What better evangelistic tool is there, than loving one another, Brothers and Sisters?
Some of us are so focused on showing the love of Christ to those who do not know Him, when in fact if we instead showed the love of Christ to each other, as God prescribes in numerous ways, those who are lost will run to be included in that kind of God-love.
Love is not a feeling! LOVE IS NOT A FEELING! I dare you to read 1 Corinthians 13 and show me where love is a feeling! LOVE IS A COMMAND FROM GOD! LOVE IS A CHOICE! TO LOVE OR NOT TO LOVE…IS OUR CHOICE!
If we cannot love our Brothers and Sisters, can we truly love those who are not?
I so desire to embrace those scriptures that tell us:
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.“
Why do I obsess over understanding how our all-loving God and pain and suffering can be reconciled?
If you and I cannot wholeheartedly accept this kind of God-love, in the midst of pain and suffering–ours and others–and allow it to consume every moment of our lives, we will never experience that abundant life He has promised to each of us, right here and right now. When will we realize it is our living in that “abundant life” that becomes the avenue by which God uses to draw us and others into a more intimate and more dependent relationship with Him?
“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.” ~Hebrew 4:15