Recently I have witnessed the agony of suffering. Several friends have been touched by very real tragedies, unexpected blows and staggering illnesses…just to name a few. I also have family members who live with chronic pain and circumstances beyond their control. We watch as news headlines flash across our smart phones about innocent lives lost, suicide terrorists, and natural disasters….and it can leave one asking God, why?
I truly hate to question God. I know He has a perspective and view far beyond my comprehension. I know He is compassionate and loving, and when we suffer, He is right there with us, holding us, wiping away our tears, and lifting our heads above the water when we don’t have the strength to do it ourselves. Yet…we still wonder, why Lord? How much longer Lord? Will this pain ever end? Will I ever be healthy again?
It was out of a broken heart for others that I brought my questions to the Lord. “Help me understand Jesus!” I begged. Well, God heard my plea, and as I opened my Bible to start researching what the Word had to say about suffering, I was led to Isaiah Chapter 53.
As I read this passage, I was overwhelmed with what God was revealing to me. First of all, this text is pure prophesy about the coming of Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior of the world. The details of what He would endure are so specific, and the fact that this all happened exactly as prophesied over 600 years before Christ was born is quite miraculous in and of itself.
But this is what really got me…in these 12 verses God reveals 40 descriptions of suffering as it relates to Jesus’ sacrifice for us. I’m going to list them for you below, because they have a little different effect than simply reading the passage. These were all taken directly from this short passage.
* Jesus was not attractive
* Jesus did not look like royalty
* Jesus was despised
* Jesus was rejected
* Jesus was no stranger to pain
* Jesus understood suffering first hand
* Jesus took our pain
* Jesus took our suffering
* Jesus was stricken
* Jesus was afflicted
* Jesus was pierced…literally, for our sin
* Jesus was crushed…severely beaten, for our sin
* Jesus took our punishment to give us peace
* Jesus was wounded so we could be healed
* We have gone astray…turned and done our own thing
* God still laid our sins upon Jesus
* Jesus was oppressed and afflicted
* Jesus did not open his mouth in self-defense
* Jesus allowed us to lead him like a lamb to his slaughter
* Jesus remained silent for us
* Jesus was oppressed and taken away
* No one protested
* Jesus was cut off from the land of the living
* Jesus was punished because of our sin
* Jesus was assigned a grave with the wicked
* Jesus had done no violence
* Jesus had no deceit in his mouth
* It was the Lord’s will to crush him
* It was the Lord’s will to cause him to suffer
* The will of the Lord will prosper
* Jesus will see the light of life after he has suffered
* Jesus will be satisfied after he has suffered
* Jesus was God’s instrument to justify many…the world
* Jesus bore the iniquities of the world
* Jesus will receive a portion among the great
* Jesus will divide the spoils with the strong
* Jesus poured out his life unto death
* Jesus was numbered with the sinners
* Jesus bore the sins of many
* Jesus made intercession for sinners (stood in the gap…took our place)
You see, no one has suffered more than Jesus…so no one can understand our suffering more than Jesus. Jesus also knows what’s on the other side of suffering…the light of life…satisfaction…blessings.
When we question how God could allow suffering, we must remember that God did not create suffering. Sin is the author of suffering, but He caused, or allowed, Jesus to suffer, because it was His will. That’s hard to comprehend! But God knew what that suffering would accomplish. He knew that after Jesus suffered, He would be reunited with the Father and never suffer again. He also knew that through Jesus’ suffering, you and I would be able to choose to be with God and Jesus forever as well. He loved us so much, that the temporary anguish Jesus suffered and endured, was actually God’s best case scenario for you and me!
So when we are suffering, we have to remember…there is a veil over us. God is always accomplishing His best case scenario for us…we just can’t always see that. That is why we must keep our minds rooted in the truth. Let me ask you, does God love Jesus? Silly question, right? Well, if God allowed His Son to suffer for our sake, we must understand that if He has allowed suffering in our lives, there is a reason…or more likely, many reasons behind it that accomplish His purposes. Because we are human, we will look for the reason, and I believe that we will know one day, even if that one day doesn’t happen until we see Him face to face.The veil will be lifted and our now finite minds will be able to grasp the breadth and width of God’s overall plan. God doesn’t make mistakes. God doesn’t harm us. When Satan deceived Adam and Eve in the garden, and they disobeyed God, sin was introduced into the world. That sin introduced suffering into the world, and suffering has touched every life to one degree or another ever since. God loves us so much, and wants the best for us. His desire to rescue us from our suffering is the reason He sent Jesus…to put an end to it. As long as we live in this world, yes, we will be touched by suffering, but the next….ahhh, yes, one day suffering will be so far removed from us we will remember it no more. Jesus gave us a permanent hope and future. We must choose to trust Him with our suffering, and pray that we will respond to it in the manner He desires in order to accomplish His good and perfect will in our lives.
So my friend, as horrible as it is to see our friends and family suffer, or experience it for ourselves, please remember that Jesus knows our suffering…REALLY knows. Others may not comprehend how you must be feeling…but He can. Others may not have the power to heal you…but He does. Others may not understand what you need…but He does. He loves you. He wants you to receive the light of life, and satisfaction and blessings. He is offering that to you. May you believe the words of Jesus, who formed you and knit you together in your mothers womb, and who knows how many hairs are on your head. May you believe and accept His love and compassionate care for you, and know that one day there will be no more suffering, as you experience the gift of eternal life that God has waiting for you.
Thank you Lord for your body, the church, who are called to be your hands and feet; to care for the widows, and orphans, and all who are in need. May we shine bright for you, and may your love filter through us and spill out onto a hurting world. ~ Amen
1 Timothy 2:5-6 ~ “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.”
John 11:25-26 ~ “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
Revelation 21:3-5a ~ 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 their God. 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.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”