You know what really bothers me? All this talk about suffering in the Bible. How suffering is necessary to conform us into the image of Jesus. How suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us (Romans 5:3-5). Quite honestly, I want to go all Thomas Jefferson on this and cut these passages out of the Bible.
Am I the only one here?
But here’s the thing guys and gals— I believe that the Bible is God’s Word. No, not in the sense where it was dictated word for word. No, no, not that way at all. Instead, it is a revealing of who God is through many authors and genres. While Jesus definitively reveals who God is (since he’s God in the flesh), the other books of the Bible also paint portraits of God. And the Bible speaks to suffering in a completely different way from other world religions and worldviews.
Suffering is not some esoteric debate topic— it’s a very real thing. We all suffer in life, while some might suffer greater than others, all cannot escape . However, the way we handle suffering is quite different.
Christianity is different because God himself suffered. He knows what it’s like to suffer, both in want and in hurt. Not only did the God-Man, Jesus the Messiah, suffer a brutal death through crucifixion, he also encountered separation from the Father.* The Christian faith makes the claim that God understands suffering and he is not indifferent to it. There is coming a time when wrongs will be righted and a Kingdom of Righteousness will be implemented—when the world is put to rights.
Until that day, we live in a broken world. The sunshine and rain alike will fall both on those who follow Jesus and those who reject him. And for this we wait in profound assurance that God hears our prayers in the middle of suffering.
*The second person of the Trinity experienced separation from the first person of the Trinity on the cross. If we understand that God is Trinitarian (3 in 1 and 1 in 3, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), then this separation can be seen as incredibly painful. The eternal relationship within the Trinitarian God had an incredible strain, since Jesus was forsaken by the Father on the cross.