Sometimes we think that God is cruel for allowing suffering. We reason that if He is good and if He is sovereign then suffering, loss, grief, sickness or poverty should not have to exist. If He were truly good, if He were truly to be trusted then He should save us from such things.
And yet, He is the God with wounds.
He is the God who chose suffering for Himself. Who chose danger and torment for His own Son so that we could be redeemed. He chose the bitter cup of suffering so that we could taste freedom.
It didn’t have to be this way. Redemption could have come at a much smaller price. The barrier of sin could have been destroyed by a single word from Him who sits on the throne. Jesus didn’t have to come, didn’t have to suffer, didn’t have to die.
The suffering of Jesus was a choice. Knowing full well the extent of the anguish God gave the order, and the Son of God became the Son of Man.
“He was despised and rejected by others, a man of sorrow, and familiar with grief. Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth. For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people He was punished. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer.” Isaiah 53
We know that Jesus came to ransom us, to be the Holy, spotless sacrifice. He was the payment for our transgressions, but at what cost? We often think of the physical sufferings of Jesus, and they are overwhelming, but what of the emotional sufferings of Jesus, and of the Father?
Despised, rejected, familiar with grief, separated from His home, separated from His Father. Jesus was a man of many sorrows. And the Father? To see your child abused. To see your child cry and beg you to make it all just stop. To see Him tortured knowing that you could stop it all with just one word.
What anguish He must have felt.
Why would God allow Jesus to endure what He did? For our salvation? Yes! But I believe it’s for more…
“The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us so that He would know, so that He would understand. When we cry out in the darkest of nights, He knows. When we stand beside graves weeping over those we love, He understands. When we look around and realize that we are all alone, He identifies. There is no suffering, no sorrow, no loss that we face that He cannot honestly say “I know just how you feel.”
He is the God of sorrows.
Who understands your tear filled eyes.
He is the God of suffering.
Who knows how it feels to be overwhelmed with circumstances.
He is the God with wounds.
Who longs to bind up your broken heart.
I don’t know why God allows suffering. Why He allows us to walk through the Valley of the Shadow of death. I do know that He doesn’t ask us to walk where He hasn’t first gone. I do know that He never leaves our side, no matter how difficult the road we travel. And I know that on the other side of the valley there is great reward!