Someone once said that suffering is getting what you don’t want and not getting what you do want. Suffering is loss. It comes in many forms and even as you read this I am sure you can think right now of something in your life or in the life of someone you love that qualifies under the heading of suffering. The origin in Latin has the sense of ‘bearing under the weight of something.’ Such burdens seem often unbearable. Grief is the body’s mechanism for distancing us from being absolutely crushed by the burden we experience.
According to Scripture suffering is sometimes permitted by God as we read in the Book of Job. Suffering is sometimes seen to be caused directly by God, as was the case with Pharaoh or with the disobedient people of Israel. But come the New Testament and we seein this new age a vision of God who is in the process of alleviating suffering through the coming of his Kingdom in the presence of Jesus, his Son.
Jesus doesn’t answer the question of suffering except to show its demise through miracles of healing that are signs of the coming of God’s Kingdom. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrates the end of death and evil ultimately.
Paul writes in Romans 8 that suffering comes into all the creation and that creation will one day be liberated and this liberation can be seen in the faith and hope of believers even now. And of course we all have the opportunity to alleviate some suffering. We are commanded through love to minister to one another and to the world. See Matthew 25.
And we come to understand that Jesus is the face of a good and gracious God. The Scriptures say, “God commanded light to shine in the dark.” Now God is shining in our hearts to let you know that his glory is seen in Jesus Christ. 2Cor. 4:6
This good work of God is displayed in Christ, his life, his teaching, death and resurrection and promised coming. We are invited to know and understand this work. We cannot thrive on emotions, which are fickle. We live on faith that is based upon knowledge. In 2Peter 3 we are encouraged to grow in grace and in knowledge.
Suffering is a reality. It hurts like hell. But the Kingdom of God life bathes this world in an overwhelming reality that Christ is even now conquering the evil that suffering might think to do in our lives.
We don’t need to go to the school of suffering. Most of us are in that school right now or have been or will be. But we do need to go to the school of Christ and learn Christ, learn his dealings with pain and suffering, learn his love and the goodness of his Father.