Should we be blaming God for our suffering?
Both believers and nonbelievers alike seem to interact with one another in an interesting way around the topic of suffering. When we go through something tough, we not only turn and say, “why me, God?”, but we tend to point our focus directly at our own sorrowing situation.
Unfortunately, sometimes we have to go through suffering just to grow. If we’re comfortable and at ease 100% of the time, there’s a good chance we’re not growing or learning.
When you think of working out at the gym, it hurts. It’s painful. You work your butt off to burn calories, gain strength, lose fat, etc.
It hurts because our physical muscles are being stretched and worked beyond their own capacity.
When we go through suffering, it’s kind of like working out at the gym. Bear with me here.
Often times, when we’re faced with a difficult situation, it requires us to take a step back. We don’t always have the tools to navigate an emotional roller coaster, especially if we’re dealing with something that we’ve never faced before.
Death, sickness, tragedy — In order to be prepared to fight some of these things, we have to go through them, right?
Luckily we have a savior that has experienced them already. If you’re pointing at God, questioning God, or wondering why God is allowing you to go through harsh circumstances, then you may be struggling with some of this confusion, frustration, and hurt.
I want to focus on two things here:
- God is sovereign
- Jesus suffered the ultimate death
God knows your sorrow. If you think he is sitting there and watching you suffer without care, you are wrong. Rather, he is watching over you, consoling you, and trying to give you the strength to get out of bed one more day, go to work one more day, apply for that job one more day, cry one more day.
The thing is, he can see your tomorrow. You can’t. He knows what next week looks like. You don’t. He knows the next date that you’ll smile or laugh or spend time with friends or get a new job. You don’t.
He also knows the person that will come out on the other side of this tragedy. You aren’t that person, yet.
Where we see weakness, he sees strength. When we feel like it’s never going to get better, he gives us hope for a new day. That sun is going to rise, believe it or not. The world will keep spinning, and we’ll be apart of it.
God will always be available in our suffering. Which is a luxury that Jesus didn’t experience in his suffering.
Jesus came to deliver us from our faults. He created a way so that we didn’t have to live perfect lives. We no longer had to live up to a law of perfection. He gave us an opportunity to remain messed up, flawed, and unclean, as long as we come to him, we’re beneficiaries of his grace.
Jesus was crucified brutally by the Romans. He was mocked. He shed his blood for the very people that put a crown of thorns on him and beat him.
They did this to God in the flesh. How crazy does that sound?
Even if you don’t believe in God, imagine this happening now to a man who only lived a life of love, service, and sacrifice. That was Jesus — love, service, and sacrifice.
We become prideful over each other about what place we finish in a race, or how much we make at our job, as if that says anything about who is more successful or better at life.
The God of the universe came to serve his creation. He came for the lowly at heart. He came for the homeless. He came for prostitutes and orphans. He came for sinners (you and me).
Jesus was beaten, bloody, and forced to carry his wooden cross while wearing a crown of thorns that were cutting his head. As he hung there on the cross, he yelled for God. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Jesus experienced what we don’t have to, in our suffering. He experienced the absence of God (or hell).
He didn’t cry out during his beating, or mocking. He didn’t cry out because he was exhausted and bleeding to death. He cried out because he experienced separation from his Father.
He suffered for us. Which meant that he had to die this type of death in order for us to be justified by faith in him.
He said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Out of mercy and love, Jesus was still praying for the people mocking him, killing him, and hating him.
The point is, in Jesus’ suffering, he experienced something that we’ll never experience here on Earth — the absence of God. Even if you don’t believe in God, this world is still full of him.
When it’s night, we know that the sun still exists. We would surely feel the absence of the sun if it burned out.
If you make a habit of blaming, pointing, and becoming frustrated or confused at God in your suffering, the best advice I can give — pursue Christ.
He’s experienced a suffering that cannot be matched.
Who are our best advice-givers, after all? Don’t we typically go to a person that has been through a hardship similar to ours? Trust me, God understands.
Your suffering is not illegitimate. Your suffering is real. I’m not downplaying suffering here. Some things are so difficult to understand, and sometimes we have to endure far longer than we ever expected.
But, we don’t have to endure in the absence of God. We can find Jesus in our suffering. The scriptures say that he was in so much agony that his sweat was falling like drops of blood to the ground, before his crucifixion (Luke 22:44).
You ever wake up in the middle of the night in heaps of sweat? Ever have anxiety so bad that your thoughts just keep you awake? Jesus says, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Our first reaction in great suffering might be to blame or to turn away from God, but the answer to get through that suffering is actually to go to him.
He is the great empathizer. He wants to walk with you in your suffering.