Pain and Suffering
One of the great challenges in human experience is the problem of pain and suffering. It’s bad enough to be caught in the experience without wondering why God doesn’t do something. The problem of pain has caused many to wonder about the goodness of God.
The Bible doesn’t offer any easy solutions but suggest some sobering truths. The Bible traces suffering back, not to God, but to tragic human choices that ripple out and fracture God’s good creation. The bad choices were influenced by some sinister and malignant power loose in creation.
The Biblical idea of incarnation suggests that instead of a power play, God chose to enter into the suffering in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. It seems that top down power as we think of it never helps the broken world. Top down power just breaks it more. Not only did God in Christ enter the human experience but Jesus descended to the lowest point of human experience in the cruel crucifixion. Where is God when we suffer? Does God care? The answer of the incarnation is that God is with us in our suffering and cares deeply.
The resurrection of Jesus tells us that after suffering lies new life. The cross is about more than suffering. In the resurrection it was demonstrated that God defeated guilt, death, and the sinister and malignant forces that cause our pain. Because of the defeat of these enemies we as humans live in a new situation that the Bible calls new creation. Where is God in our pain and suffering? God is working to use the pain in a redemptive way. The pain is temporary; the new creation is eternal. In our pain, Christians are still a people of hope.
The Biblical instruction on incarnation and resurrection are not obscure doctrines. They are paths blazed by God through the work of Jesus. The Bible calls him the “pioneer,” the “Trailblazer” (Hebrews 2:10) We are invited to follow. This truth doesn’t make pain less painful, but it can provide hope as we move into the future.