This is Part 3 of 3 parts answering the question, “How great is the suffering that God allows?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?”
Jesus’ Death On the Cross was the Ultimate Example of Suffering
By the time Jesus was on the cross, He had already suffered in many ways. He had endured six illegal civil and religious trials during the (sleepless) night before. He then went through the brutal persecution and torture from the Roman soldiers. They beat a crown of thorns into His skull (Mark 15: 16-22). They thrashed His body with a cat-o-nine-tails (which was a leather whip with many pieces of metal and bone woven into the leather straps). After mocking Him with a purple robe and bowing down to Him, he carried His cross part of the way to Golgotha, before He collapsed from exhaustion. But He never opened His mouth through this (Is. 53:7).
When He was put on the cross (around 9 a.m.), He had large nails through His hands (next to the wrist) and into His feet. Although this caused Him great agony, still He did not open His mouth. It wasn’t until around noon, when the Father made Jesus the object of sin, which caused darkness to settle over the world that Jesus knew He was separated from the Father. This caused Him to cry out at the ninth hour, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?” (3 p.m.; Mark 15:34). That separation from the Father was the most excruciating pain anyone could have ever experienced.
Peter Warns Us Not To Be Shocked at Suffering
Because of the suffering that God may allow, Peter warned his readers,
12 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Pet. 4:12-17 NKJ)
Suffering in this present life is a part of the curse of this life. There will be suffering and God is in total control. When God allows suffering, He always has a purpose for it. How do you “rejoice” as Peter wrote? It is very difficult while enduring the suffering. After reading Parts Three and Four, you’ll have a much better understanding and then you’ll make the choice, just as Jesus did, because you’ll want God’s will to be done more than your own.
- What are some of the difficult sufferings that you’ve gone through?
- What is the most difficult kind of suffering that you have observed in the world, if it was not your own?
- After reading this chapter, what do you see was the solution for Job and Paul? Were they different solutions? How so?
- What do you imagine was on Jesus’ mind as He prayed to the Father in the Garden? That is, what made Him sweat drops of blood? How did He deal with it?
- If we read and understand what Peter wrote, why does it seem so difficult each time we go through new kinds of suffering? How do you handle it?1http://www.gotquestions.org/sweat-blood-Jesus.html