God's Answer To Suffering


"If I knew of any way of escape [from pain] I would crawl through sewers to find it." - C.S. Lewis

I've been considering the purpose of suffering lately.  

It's the season for these kinds of reflections.  In these few days before Holy Week our thoughts can often turn toward the journey of Jesus into Jerusalem, and ultimately to the suffering, that journey brought him.  

But I've also been considering the purpose of suffering in general as I read the news of the day--news of war, of violence, hopeless division, sin, and death.  

My oldest boy called me on his way to school today to ask me if I'd heard the news on the latest bomb attacks here in Austin, TX.  The last attack happened just a few miles from our house, injuring two men severely.  He also shared another story he'd heard about a terrible murder-suicide in Florida.  

I realize now that he wanted me to tell him something profound.  I didn't have anything profound to say, though.  All I had was a word of lament, and a weary wish for a world made right.  

I wish this world was better for him, and for the children I hope he will have one day.  

I read a beautiful poem today by John O'Donohue that captured my weary wish:  
I would love to live Like a river flows, Carried by the surprise Of its own unfolding. 
I would love to step out into the world and find nothing but answers all around me.  That it would all be made clear.  I would love to discover that, in the words of the poet Tomas Transtromer, "...all the question marks began singing of God's being." 

I don't have all the answers as to suffering's purpose. 

But what I do have is the image of a twisted body on a Roman cross--Jesus' body, the body that bore the very Spirit of God in the Second Person of the Trinity.  

What I do have is the messy, broken suffering of God who joins us in the muck and mire of our brokenness, and frailty.  

Philosopher Peter Kreeft once wrote: 
"Every tear we shed becomes [Jesus'] tear.  He may not yet wipe them away, but he makes them his... God's answer to the problem of suffering not only really happened two thousand years ago, but it is still happening in our own lives." 
If you are struggling today to make sense of the suffering in this world or in your own life--know that you are not alone.  Jesus is struggling and suffering with you, reaching out to you, comforting you by his presence.  

  




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