This is Part 1 of 4 parts answering the question, “What is worse than the suffering that God allows?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering? Parts 2-4 will be posted on succeeding days.
For many, the suffering that God allows is the worst thing they can imagine. The dreadful woe can be terrible. It may be a constant, dull ache or an acute anguish. Even if it is temporary, it can become so “old” that it seems to have no end. Those of us who are in the midst of adversity may get to the point where we would almost rather die than continue on in the pain! However, there is something worse than the sifferomg we may experience in life.
Our Worst Suffering is What Directly Affects Ourselves
There are many forms of suffering that others experience, but the agony we seek to avoid is most often what directly affects us. We may grieve over the news that a loved one has contracted cancer, and it may be emotionally draining watching them become weaker and weaker as death approaches. There may be a desire to want to join the person in heaven once the Lord has taken his last breath away. The separation may be enough to cause the one left behind to become lethargic and give up on discipling others to Jesus. Even Jesus grieved at the loss of his good friend Lazarus in the often quoted verse, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35). He grieved, because death had once again conquered the flesh.
However, whether we want to admit it or not, much of our suffering is related to how much circumstances directly affect us! Our decisions to grieve, react, isolate or internalize are very often responses to our own personal trials. These responses can prevent us to think of ways to use the situation to reach others. This is pretty natural, because we are so oriented to our five senses! We see the wound, the offender or the detrimental situation. We remember what we heard that was said against us. We can smell the acrid moment of the offense each time we see the individual that committed it. We feel the “stomach-punch” from the caustic words spoken or the actions taken against us. We can taste the bitterness of the situation as we forgive, but remember the memories.
It’s only through the rule of Jesus Christ in our heart and the filling of the Holy Spirit that we gain peace over the offenses of the past. There may be abusive situations that are not brought to resolution and relationships where the injured party’s trust in the incident is not restored. An example of this might be a young woman who is abused by an older uncle or grandfather. She is never expected to be put in the same close proximity to him again. Yet, in many situations where there is repentance , solemnity and soberness by the perpetrator(s), the relationship can be covered in love and even made stronger! And a repentant husband and his wife can seek to start afresh and rebuild their relationship. Peter said it well, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” (1 Pet. 4:8 NKJ) That fervent, zealous and earnest love for each other can heal and make the marriage stronger. A great illustration of this is how melting copper and zinc together create a metal that is so much stronger – brass!
The Lord Jesus Christ is able to take the suffering in our lives and make us stronger from it. But He won’t do it unless we are focused on Him and believe that He will take the circumstances, work them together in His Divine way and grow us up spiritually!
Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.