God Suffers In All Those Who Suffer In This World
God shares in our Suffering. We do need to understand that our God is there in the midst of our suffering. He is not on the side lines or over in a corner just watching. He is there to comfort us and to encourage us and give us strength.
Where is God? Is God present here in our midst?
What an irrelevant and awkward question to ask? Isn’t it? That too to the people like us – who believe that God is present everywhere.
Where is God? I am sure Most of us have asked this question at one time or another.
Its answer has more to do with His presence in our lives than with belief in His existence. Yes, we want to know -- where is God when I am hurt, or where is God when something goes desperately wrong in my life? Our conclusions depend on what we rely on as a benchmark for truth in our lives.
In today's world, it's easy for us to think that we suffer alone. Sufferings: From birth to death. From the cradle to the cemetery, we spend much of our existence trying to avoid suffering, pain and stay out of trouble. Isn’t it
If you watch television commercials, you have probably noticed that many of them offer advice about how to manage pain; some people try to escape pain through drugs and alcohol or some other means but they find that their pain increases rather than disappears.
Here, let me ask you another question: “Is there any good news for those who suffer?”
What is this, again another question?..
Friends, Trouble and suffering are facts of life that all of us must cope with sooner or later.
Yes, Suffering is usually a subject that we don't like to talk about. In fact, we would rather avoid the whole issue. Yet, it is something that we cannot and should not avoid. It's a human reality. No matter how large or small a group is you can be assured that a number of the people there are experiencing some trial, test or time of suffering. It's just a human reality.
Today, there are billions of people who are going through all kinds of anguish, agony and suffering.
+There are people living with the uncertainty of some dreaded disease or handicap.
There are people living under the clouds of financial instability and distress.
+There are people living with some form of cancer or some other terminal disease.
+ There are people enduring times of grief over the loss of a spouse, a parent or child.
+There are people who are suffering from the heartaches of a bad marriage or relationship.
+There are people whose families are falling apart.
+There are teens and children who are going through all kinds of difficulties and stresses in their lives not of their own choosing.
Yes, +There are people who are unemployed and cannot seem to find work.
+There are people who feel all alone thinking that no one cares if they live or die.
+There are people who are struggling with alcohol, drugs or some other addiction. Each time they think they have got it under control, they find themselves overwhelmed all over again.
+There are people who are trying to have a child and yet are still barren.
+There are people who live with chronic agonizing pain.
There are people who are recovering from surgery and who are facing major life changes.
+There are people who are starving and living off less than one dollar a day and these are only a few of the things that billions of people all over our planet are suffering.
I have no doubt that many of us have suffered or are suffering right now and we don't even believe we can talk about it. You may even feel that no one really cares or would take the time to listen to you. Sadly, there are some that many of us know that have given up on God because they feel that God has let them down and that He no longer cares for them if He ever did care.
Others are hanging on hoping that something good will come out of all their suffering but they are no longer sure. With each passing day they have more and more doubts. Still others are wondering what they have done to deserve so many times of deep suffering.
From the Old Testament 2 Kings Chapter 5, we come to know about a person named Namaan
Namaan was the "Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff" of his day. The military leader of one of the region's most powerful nations, he was a definite candidate for Who's Who in the World. He was the cream of the crop, lived among the upper crust, and caroused among the elite. The Bible says, "Naaman, commander of the army for the king of Aram, was a great man in his master's sight and highly regarded because through him, the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man was a brave warrior . . ." (2 Kings 5:1). Did you hear those descriptive words?
Don't we all want people to use them for us? Commander. Great. Highly regarded. Victorious. Valiant. Here was a man that had power, position, and prestige. He was successful. He was a winner. He was wealthy. He was a hero. He was respected. He was admired. He was envied.
"But" - a three-letter conjunction. That small word changes everything.
Notice how the first one concludes. ". . . but he had a skin disease" (2 Kings 5:1). He could think about all of his accomplishments; he could enjoy his power and position and prestige; he could admire his home and his wealth; but they all seemed to vanish as he stared into the mirror each day. Each time he looked at himself there was something looking back that defined his life. He was a leper, and nothing could change that fact.
In Bible times, no other disease was as feared as leprosy. It affected the whole body. One of the worst aspects of leprosy was the social isolation it brought.
Mother Teresa, known as “Saint of the Gutters” said, and I quote, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.” Mother Teresa was able to bring leprosy patients into the mainstream at a time when they were dreaded, stigmatised and often abandoned by their families. While her motto was to "Do small things with great love", her “small things” left a big impact on the lives of the destitute and outcast.
It is estimated that in India, there are:
- over one million people with visible deformities due to leprosy
- around 750 ‘leprosy colonies’ where over 200 thousand people live marginalised lives
People affected by leprosy need to have access to good healthcare, employment skills with earning capacities, and equal opportunities to live as equal citizens. The Leprosy Mission Trust India (TLMTI), through its varied programmes – Healthcare, Sustainable Livelihood, Community Empowerment, Advocacy, and Research and Training – is working to bring healing, inclusion and dignity in their lives. But they cannot do it alone. The Leprosy Mission Trust needs our support.
In Luke 17:12-19, we find a wonderful account of the healing of the leprous man; we are given a glimpse into the heart of the Savior. We are allowed to see His compassion and His power on full display.
The Bible calls this man “a leper”. This disease is known in our day as Hansen's Disease. It is a highly infectious disease that was incurable in Bible times, but one which can be treated today.
In the Bible, leprosy is far more than a disease. It is also a type of sin!
Jesus sees this poor man and He sees His condition. He does not shrink back in fear from the leper as the rest of the people are doing. He is not repulsed by his appearance or by his smell. We are told that Jesus is “moved with compassion”.
“Compassion” is a word that refers to “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” When Jesus looked upon this poor, wretched man and saw his condition, His heart was stirred to action! In fact, the thought expressed here is “of love and compassion expressed to those in one’s own family.” Jesus loved this man like others would love a brother, or a son! What love!
Then, Jesus did something very strange. We are told that He “put forth His hand, and touched him”. It had been years since anyone had touched this man. It had been years since this man had held his wife or children. He had been isolated and alone!
To touch a leper made one unclean and was strictly forbidden by the Law. Touching a leper could possibly cause the one touching to become infected as well. But what did Jesus do? The Bible says, He touched Him!
Others would never have touched a leper out of fear of contracting the disease themselves. Jesus, the cleanest man in the entire crowd, did not fear defilement, so He touched him without fear.
Friends, Wherever you are in your spiritual journey, He cares! He is ready to reach into your life and touch you at the very point of your need. He stands ready to help you, if you will simply come to Him in faith as this poor leper did! He suffers in your sufferings.
We need to believe that our God shares in our Suffering. Yes, Our God walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death. A God who will not only walk with us but will suffer alongside us as well.
Today, we need to understand that our God is a Good God. We do need to understand that our God is there in the midst of our suffering. He is not on the side lines or over in a corner just watching. He is there in the midst of our pain and suffering. He is there to comfort us and to encourage us and give us strength.
When Israel needed water the LORD was there. When the Woman at the Well was suffering the LORD was there. When tragedy strikes and when the results of our Fall, our rebellion causes evil, pain and suffering, remember God is there.
Jesus is still touching lives today? It makes no difference who you are or what you may have done, you are not so bad as to be beyond His glorious touch.
Today would be a good day to get down before Him and get everything right. For Indeed “God suffers in all those who suffers in this world”.
Rev. Dr. Joel Patrick is currently working as the Associate Professor in Communication at Bishop's College, Kolkata.
Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash