Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.
We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn.’
The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.
C.S. Lewis ~~writing on suffering
The assumption on the part of some is that life comes with a “no pain” guarantee. Anyone who has experienced or witnessed childbirth knows better. It all starts out with a push and a cry, not exactly the most comfortable moments for mother or baby. No one escapes suffering, no matter how strongly they believe in God. It is what we signed up for once we exited our mother’s womb.
How could an all-powerful all-knowing God allow suffering, especially in innocent children? This is a standard argument used against the existence of God. The reasoning is that there is abundant suffering in the world so therefore no God in control. Somehow the gospel reality is set aside: God allowed His own suffering and experienced real pain in order to defeat death on our behalf and to ensure an eternal union with Him.
He mourned. He wept. He hurt. He bled. He died. Just like us.
What all powerful all knowing God would do that? Our God would, because He is first and foremost a loving God who makes imperfection perfect again.
No, there isn’t a “no pain” guarantee –neither God nor even the natural world ever promised that. But only our God promises “no stain” –that we are washed clean for eternity by the blood He shed in suffering.
For that is our greatest comfort of all.
For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:5
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 —Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
The secular world has popularized “random acts of kindness” as a way to pay forward kindnesses that one receives. It leaves the receiver of a kindness awed and inspired to do something nice for someone else and the giver feels good at having given away something of themselves to benefit another. The classic examples include plugging someone’s parking meter that is about to expire, or quietly paying for the coffee drinks for the person behind you in line.
There is nothing random about how God the Father approaches us “in all our troubles.” He is quite intentional in His comforting of all His people; it isn’t just kindness bestowed in a random way. His compassion means we are never abandoned to trouble. He is beside us at all times.
We are asked to respond in the same way, coming alongside “those in any trouble” overflowing with the comfort we have been shown from God. This is also intentional; comfort is not just ours to receive and keep but it is ours to give. We are comforted even more so knowing we are sharing as God intended when He shared the Comforter with us on Christmas Day.
2 Corinthians 1:5–For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
To follow Jesus does not mean an end to suffering but it means we willingly and joyfully choose to share the overwhelming burden He has borne in payment for our sin.
God sending His Son to walk among us
did not end sin on earth
but showed mankind how
to choose mercy rather than tyranny,
to offer forgiveness rather than blame,
to express gratitude rather than resentment,
to share what little we have rather than covet all that we desire.
By seeking truth, by following Jesus, the comfort found in Him will far outweigh our suffering.
He was born for this. And so were we.