Does God suffer? I was thinking a lot about it during my recent tour in the US. The answer did not come immediately. But eventually I knew: yes, He does.
The sinfulness of the human race surely inflicts suffering upon Him and doesn’t make Him happy. And the way evil people treat the righteous and persecute His faithful ones also arouses His wrath.
But what about us, His children? Do we cause Him to suffer?
I can easily make a list of that which inflicts suffering upon me. When people speak against me behind my back, I am not happy about it. When someone rejects my friendship or offer of help, I feel sad. When a person I invested much counselling and prayer into their lives, chooses a superficial path and does not allow God to touch him or her in a real way, that truly quenches my soul.
When I minister to a non-believer, or even to a new believer, I have zero expectations where their morality and maturity are concerned. I almost expect the worse and get excited over every little insight they acquire. But when I pour my time and resources into someone else’s life, walk with them as they taste of the divine and live in it, but then see how they choose to chase an unnecessary rabbit trail and gradually become satisfied with complacency in the matters of God – that does not bring happiness into my soul.
Does it break God′s heart? Well, He speaks strongly to Israel about giving up the riches He offered her for the colorful and sensual shallowness that the gods of the land offered. It broke His heart, ignited His wrath and eventually caused Him to hand some of His authority over to torturers. And boy, were we tortured throughout centuries.
Where are you when it comes to the best God has revealed to you? Did it become a part of your lifestyle and routine, or only a story you share? What hurts and inflicts suffering upon you? And what do you do when you face a hardship? Have your struggles and unanswered prayers hardened your heart towards God? Do you stuff yourself with chocolate (my favorite “solution”), indulge in other forms of addiction to numb the pain, run to someone to gossip or maybe shut in and detach yourself from others?
Where is God when you hurt? And why do you think He even allows it? Why doesn’t He put an end to our pain? Come to think of it: why doesn’t He put an end to His own pain and suffering? After all, unlike us, He can be done with it in no time, yet He chooses to continue to suffer, and it does not harden His heart or change His love towards us.
I think there is an aspect to suffering that we can’t fully grasp from this side of heaven. Most of us look at it as something that needs to be dealt with, a punishment or a proof that God is hiding Himself from us because of some misbehavior. Is it? Does suffering look the same from His angle as it does from ours?
No, it doesn’t
Suffering apparently achieves something that can not be accomplished without it. Among other things, it teaches us to obey. After all, there was some form of obedience that even Yeshua Himself could learn only through suffering (Heb. 5:8). This verse is so powerful and strange. Why did He have to learn to obey? Was He disobedient prior to it? Obviously not.
Hebrews 2:10 adds to that: “For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
Here it is again: suffering leads to perfection. It is a tool that we underestimate, do not fully understand, and thus – neglect to treat in the proper manner.
Back to our wounds
Which wound or hardship brings much discomfort into your life? Can you see God’s hand behind it, pulling the strings, or are you praying that He will remove this from your life?
The discomfort or hardship you are going through right now might be His way to deliver a message that you did not heed while He tried to get your attention in a more tender manner. Because of His unfathomable love, He never gives up on perfecting us. When we turn a deaf ear and focus on removing suffering from our lives versus allowing it to mold us, raises up the volume of His knocks (Rev. 3:19-20).
Will you open? Or will you inflict more suffering upon the lover of your soul and prolong yours?
What does all that have to do with Israel? Mmm… wait for part two of this post.