You will suffer

By Jon DiNovo, participant at Goud op Zondag

The Bible is a hopeful book. In fact, I’d say it’s the most hopeful book ever written. The central message of the Bible, “the Gospel”, literally gets its name from the Greek term for good news. And as a follower of the Way of Jesus, I’m fully convinced that no better news can exist outside of that which God communicates through Jesus Christ.

With that said- it’s interesting how much of the Bible is filled with sad people expressing their sadness or frustrated people expressing their frustration or broken people expressing their brokenness. 

the Bible and Suffering

The third chapter of Genesis shows humanity’s abrupt and painful fall from paradise. The following books are filled with stories of betrayal, disappointment, and pain. God’s people turn from Him, recognize their mistakes, and turn back only to fall away once more. It’s enough to make the most optimistic of us into cynics.
God sends His prophets to set the people straight but these prophets are broken people themselves. They’re depressed, they’re social outcasts, they’re stubborn and disobedient- they’re human.

Two-thirds of the Psalms, the largest book in the Bible, are written from a place of sadness, fear, or anxiety. There’s even an entire book of the Bible devoted to nothing but lamentation. I haven’t even mentioned the story of Job.

It’s as the teacher of Ecclesiastes reminds us- there’s a time for laughter and a time for weeping.

Suffering and the Christian Life

Now the story doesn’t end in suffering. Quite the opposite actually.

But in the process of getting there, we must live in a world filled with scars and strife. We must endure the hardship of inevitable loss and the mornings where getting out of bed requires more effort than it should.

We must live aware of the fact that suffering will come.

When I became a Christian, the outward circumstances of my life didn’t instantly improve. I still struggled. Almost 10 years later and I’m still struggling. 

What’s different, however, is that I understand my suffering better. And in that, I’m better equipped to handle these hardships. I know that I don’t need to rely on my own strength, knowledge, or wisdom to weather this storm. Instead, I rely on the eternal well of God’s love and however He grants me the fortitude to suffer.

May we be emotionally honest people. If not already here, difficult times will come. We must not delude ourselves into thinking they don’t exist or, somehow, don’t affect us because we’re Christians. We must not distract ourselves out of fear of encountering life’s darkness. 

Furthermore, we need not allow the pain to define us. We need not lose hope. We need not to walk through it alone.

Jesus and Suffering

The Bible is not a book of fluffy, motivational quotes. Instead, it’s the best account of the human experience- complete with all its rough and uneven edges.

It’s in this book that its central figure, Jesus Christ, is referred to as a “Man of Sorrows”, one who is “familiar with suffering.” 

And while Jesus’s sacrifice was motivated by His love for humanity, it was also motivated by the sorrow He felt for them. And in order to achieve reconciliation with mankind, Jesus had to endure the greatest suffering imaginable- the masterpiece of the worst life has to offer. 

In this we are shown that eternal life was not just bought by joy but by sorrow as well.

From this, we learn that God not only recognizes human suffering but has experienced it Himself. God could’ve spared Himself that- but He didn’t. He endured the greatest suffering in order to give mankind the greatest blessing.

And if God, all-knowing and perfect, did not Himself deny the suffering of this life, then what does that mean for us?

As a friend of mine once said: “You can either suffer alone or suffer with God.” 

In other words, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Blijf op de hoogte, abonneer je op onze nieuwsbrief!

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes.

Goud op Zondag  |  diaconale en interculturele geloofsgemeenschap in het Oude Noorden van Rotterdam

Copyright 2023. Alle rechten voorbehouden. Website door NEAR.