There is a question everybody asks. It is a question that comes from the heart and the mind. It is a question that is sounded off through tears and through gritted teeth. It is a question we don’t want to ask nor to be asked. It does not have an easy answer.
Susie asked the question when her position was terminated she had held for several years.
Joe asked the question when his teenage daughter went missing.
Jill asked the question when her husband came home drunk again and beat her…again.
A young couple asked the question when the pregnancy just ended for no reason.
Mary asked the question when she was told she wasn’t loved any longer and he wanted a divorce.
Here’s the question so many ask:
If God is in control, why did this happen?
If God is all-powerful, why did He not stop this from happening?
It is the $64,000 question. It is the one question church leaders don’t want to be asked. Yet, it happens all of the time. Having nothing to say, we should say nothing, but we usually mutter something about “It will all work out for good”, or “God will never put more on you than you can handle.” The first is an incomplete scriptural thought. The second is just not scriptural. What should we say? What is the truth?
Whatever your pain, God has felt it. Whatever your problem, God has been through it. He identifies with what you’re going through now.
As we approach Easter I have been reviewing Jesus’ final days and hours. The review is annual. The events have not changed. In a cold review, Jesus was betrayed, tried, beaten, crucified, buried, and risen. Let’s dive a little deeper. 12 men were chosen to walk with him for 3 years. These were his closest friends.
Have you ever been betrayed? Jesus has. One of twelve betrayed him. He did not just tell the soldiers where to find Him. He led them to Jesus. He did not just point Him out. He walked up and greeted Him with a customary kiss. Can you feel the emotional pain? Maybe you have felt this type of pain. You might feel betrayed right now. Jesus knows how that feels. He can walk with you through this time.
Have you ever been abandoned? Once the soldiers took Jesus, they ran. Judas simply went away and hanged himself. The others ran away in the moment of Jesus’ greatest need for a friend. Peter, one of the closest, even publicly denied having known Jesus. Maybe your parents, or friend, or loved one just walked away. Maybe you feel abandoned. Jesus knows how that feels. He can walk with you through this time.
Have you ever felt misunderstood? Have you felt wrongfully judged? Jesus, the Son of God, was brought before the religious council and Roman judicial representative. Trumped up charges were brought. The religious council had been waiting for this moment for over two years. Anything which smacked of misconduct was enough for them: Guilty! Pilate was not so easily convinced. He couldn’t afford an uprising, but he would not convict either. Maybe you have been misunderstood. Maybe you have been too quickly judged. Jesus knows how that feels. He can walk with you through this time.
Have you ever been bullied? After the scourging, Jesus was absolutely exhausted. That was not enough for the soldiers, though. If He was a King, then He needed a crown. So they fashioned one out of thorns and squeezed it onto his head. Because He would not perform for them, he was slapped, spat on, and kicked around. Maybe you, or your child, is being pressured or bullied. Jesus knows how that feels. He can walk with you through this time.
Have you ever grieved? Have you ever felt loss? The moment Jesus went up on the cross our sin fell on Him. Jesus was dying physically. Jesus was separating from God spiritually. He carried our sins upon his heart. Maybe someone close to you died. Maybe you had to change homes or schools at a difficult moment. Maybe divorce entered your life. The Father knows how you feel. He can walk with you through this time
9 But we do see Jesus-made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace He might taste death for everyone-crowned with glory and honor because of His suffering in death.
10 For in bringing many sons to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God-all things exist for Him and through Him-should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
God allowed Jesus to suffer what seems to be needlessly. Or was it? The suffering of Jesus was for a purpose. His suffering allowed for our sins to be forgiven. His suffering allows for a chance to be in a relationship with God and be in Heaven after death. His suffering provides experience and knowledge so that He not only sympathizes with you, but He empathizes. He doesn’t just cry for you. He hurts with you because He knows your pain. He has been there. God, in His majesty and glory, will not often remove the pain or us from the experience. What He will do is comfort you. He will walk with you. In fact, when you can’t walk, He will carry you.
The next time you find yourself in an experience that is beyond your capacity to endure or comprehend think of Jesus. God allowed his suffering because it was a part of a larger purpose. His suffering was allowed to help you. God is allowing suffering for a purpose. We want it to stop, but the one you will help in the future would sure appreciate your experience and empathy. Jesus went willingly to the cross. He welcomed the suffering and had you in His mind. Take the suffering head on. Pray for strength. Pray for comfort. Pray for those who will be the recipients of your experience and empathy.