How Jesus processes our suffering

Suffering-

In the Bible, the instance Jesus first encountered Saul of Tarsus shows us God’s true character. Saul, on orders of the High Priest, was on his way to Damascus to deal with a group of people who had fallen under what the religious establishment considered a dangerous heresy – the first Christians.

In Acts 9:4b (NIV), Jesus appeared to Saul and said: “Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?”

Notice that, although Saul had never met Jesus until this point, Jesus did not acknowledge the Christians Saul was persecuting. Instead, without any narration, Jesus accused Saul of directly persecuting him. Jesus owned the entire persecution and suffering that the first Christians were going through. This is how closely Jesus associates himself with the suffering of those who follow him: he owns their pain. But that is not all.

Not only does God own the suffering of Christians, He also owns the suffering of each and every person in the world. God loves us so much whether we are Christians or not.

In Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV), Jesus prophesied about what will happen at the end of time:

   When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?” Then he will answer them, saying, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

 

I remember that while I was young, the pastor of the church I used to attend normally used this passage to motivate us to be good to others. But after understanding the radical love of God for us, this passage has acquired an additional meaning for me, and I hope it will for you too. Now I see how Jesus owns the suffering that every human being goes through, just as he owns the suffering of Christians. Jesus uses this prophetic scenario to show us how he identifies with us.

Observe that Jesus does not question the cause of suffering. Jesus does not judge why one finds himself in the mess that he is in. He does not discriminate against people who suffer from lifestyle-related afflictions, he does not debate why someone has no clothes, or why another is in jail. No matter what happened, no matter how it happened, Jesus one hundred percent owns the pain and suffering that each and every individual goes through one hundred percent of the time.

It does not matter whether the person is a Jew, a Gentile, a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, an atheist, or a chronic underachiever, God approaches every situation with compassion first and compassion always. Jesus suffers alongside them. In fact, he suffers more because he loves them very much. He loves them so much that he owns their pain. That is how much God is invested in us.

And by the way, in case you are going through some suffering right now, I want you to know that Jesus owns your pain one hundred percent. He is with you and feels your hurt. That is how much he loves you. This also applies to the people you know who are going through some issues right now.

God calls on us to cast our burdens on Him because He cares for us. God also considers it lack of faith when we worry and are anxious about earthly things. God Himself is more invested in our well-being than we could ever know.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9a (NIV), Paul reminds us that God’s grace is sufficient for us, for His power is made perfect in our weakness.

 

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