Life just seems to be full of suffering. There are breakups, disease, disasters and AT&T’s customer service.
So one of the biggest questions in life is actually not, “Why is there suffering?” because we inherently know it exists, but “Why do I suffer?” But we must answer the first question to understand the second.
So why does suffering exist in the first place? That’s simple. Because of sin.
God is holy and made this world perfect. But when mankind freely sinned out of the goodness that was free will, he brought sin into the world.
Since God is holy, sin creates a separation from that holiness on a spiritual level and a physical level – this is suffering.
And until sin is gone, there will be this separation from perfection. Imperfect relationships, imperfect bodies, imperfect wisdom – this is suffering.
So you may ask, “At this point, can’t God just forgive everyone of this sin?”
If God is good, that means he is also just. If a criminal is declared guilty of punching thousands of senior citizens in the face and the judge arbitrarily reverses the verdict and sets him free – that judge would be unjust.
For God to not be an unjust God, he must deal with sin.
Fortunately for us God is not just a God of justice, who would be completely just in judging our sin… but God is also a God of love creating a way to deal with our sin.
Of course that way is Christ.
We owe a debt to God that we can’t pay because of our sin. So the only one who can pay it is one who not only has no debt (no sin), but has the means to pay it (Christ’s perfection).
So either we stand before God’s justice and pay own debt OR we say, “I give my life to Christ and have him pay the debt.”
And what did Christ have to go through to deal with our sin? Suffering.
That whole crucifixion thing wasn’t fun. Taking on our sin wasn’t fun. It was suffering.
God the Son suffered for our sins, to deal with our sin, our suffering, so that one day our suffering will end because the sin that separates us from his holiness will be dealt with.
So what do we do now?
In subsequent devotionals I will go into more depth on dealing with suffering, but we first must know that Christ suffered so that one day our suffering might end.
So next time you are praying about your suffering, there are three things in logical succession you can worship God for during your suffering:
1. God is holy. He his righteous, perfect and cannot have sin before him, and sin creates suffering.
2. God is just. He is not arbitrary. He deals with sin.
3. God is love. He did not simply punish us all for our sin but Christ suffered and died to deal with our sin and ultimately our suffering.
As you come before God in prayer during your suffering, take note of #3 (God is love), that he himself was subject to suffering and understands ours.
If you are in Christ, give thanks to God that, while our suffering might be great, it is temporary, and that he has dealt with our sin so that our suffering will one day come to an end because we will be able to fellowship with him in his holiness.
Revelation 21: 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Take time to pray: Praise God for his holiness, justice and love. Thank God for sending Christ to deal with our sin and ultimately our suffering. Thank God that Christ understands our suffering.
Today’s Fruit of the Spirit: Patience. The patience to deal with our suffering so that we focus our eyes on the one who is dealing with our suffering.