Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
This is our last episode on the problem of evil. Today we consider our suffering God.
My daughter, talking to Muslim, asked, , “Would Allah come to earth, be born in a stable, and grow up as a human?”
“Never,” was the response. “Allah is great. There’s poop and dirt in a stable . He wouldn’t become a human baby.”
This points to a difference between Islam and Christianity. The Christian God became human in Jesus. He got down and dirty. He washed his disciples’ feet. He gave himself up to torture and suffering and death.
Jesus is key to answering the question of evil and suffering. God, not content to be a distant and dispassionate observer of his hurting world, got personally involved in the mess through Jesus. He shared his life with sinners. He handled money inscribed by Caesar. He suffered and died under Pontius Pilate.
In every part of the Bible, God suffers. Before the flood, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become. . . . He regretted making humans. His heart was deeply troubled” (Genesis 6:5-6).
Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks . . . but you were not willing” (Mat 23:37).
God was grieved by human violence and sin, by rejection of his love. But his suffering went further. On the cross, Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, felt that God had stopped being with him. And then he died.
Our father, we lay all the world’s evil and suffering at Jesus’ cross. Wars, torture, endless diseases, petty sins of petty people, genocides of tyrants. Is there room for all of this at the cross?
Thomas Aquinas thought so when he wrote:
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what thy bosom ran–
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.
(Adore Te Devote, trans. Gerard Manley Hopkins)
“All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.” Yes, the cross is big enough and strong enough to bear the sin and suffering of the world.
So we bring the problem of evil and suffering to you, our God, and to Jesus on the cross. Not asking why you permit it, not raging against injustice, not trying to fathom your logic.
We come as sufferers who find in Jesus a fellow sufferer. The crosses we bear find meaning in his cross. Our sins are washed in the river of his pain. Our diseases are healed in the flow of his blood. In our death, we hope in his death and resurrection.
With the dying thief who shared his last day with Jesus we say, “Remember us when you come into your kingdom.”
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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