“Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1
Suffering has a way of sobering us
Jesus tells us that “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33, emphasis mine), so the question is never if we will suffer.
When we see painful suffering in the world or when it arrives on our doorstep, it has a way of forcing us to wrestle with questions like, “Where is God? Why is this happening? Is there a God? If there is, is he aware of the pure evil, sickness, and suffering occurring in this world? Has he done anything about it? Will he do anything about it?”
C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Looking at the life of Job
In the Old Testament, Job had his fair share of suffering. He loses his 10 children in a natural disaster and gets stricken with boils while his wife encourages him to join her and abandon the God who appears to have abandoned them. Job’s buddies arrive to comfort and counsel him. They appear to do a decent job until they open their mouths and begin asking unhelpful theological and philosophical questions. More was actually said in their silence than in their speaking.
All the while, Job wonders like the Psalmist at why is all this happening to him and where is God in the midst of it. In the end, Job doesn’t get the answer he was looking for, but he did get the truth he needed. God (who has been there all along) speaks, but does not reveal the reason to Job’s suffering. Rather, he proclaims that he is in control and sovereignly reigning over everything (Job 38-42). He is Creator, and we are creation.
A God who suffered
Just like Job, we might not always know all the reasons why certain suffering is happening. We do know that we have a God who is not only aware of it, but at Christmas time, we are reminded that he entered our great suffering. He out-suffered the entire world’s sin, sickness, and death, and Jesus crushed what crushes us through his triumphant resurrection from the dead.
Jesus knows what it’s like. Jesus sympathizes with what we’re going through (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus intercedes and prays for us (Romans 8:34). Jesus is currently building a home for us (John 14:1–2). There is coming a day on the calendar of God that I am certain he is eager to see arrive, for it is the day when he will appear glorious by wiping away every tear from every eye (Revelation 21:4).