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  • Love and Liberty

God Suffers With Us

Isn't God good to be willing, because of his great heart, to suffer with us when we suffer? People think of God as being transcendent to the point that he is unaffected by our suffering, but that is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible shows that God grieves over sin, that he has compassion for the broken hearted, and that he regrets how some things turn out. He even entered into our humanity and subjected himself to the same trials and temptations that we face. He suffers with us and for us. He is touched by the feeling of our infirmities.

He chastens, but he does so as a loving parent, not an angry judge. He may afflict, in his wisdom, in order to keep us humble, but he does so begrudgingly, not simply because of a plan for his own glory. He does not just arbitrarily choose to inflict “X” on anyone. In an open and suffering creation, afflictions and atrocities do occur arbitrarily, freeing God from blame, for the Bible does not teach he causes all things, nor does he specifically allow all afflictions and atrocities for a specific purpose (again, because of a predetermined plan for his own glory), as if he is responsible for all that happens.

The Lord has genuine emotions and is not unaffected by what happens to us. The Lord wept when his friend Lazarus died. He grieves over sin and the harm it causes us. He tasted death for every man because he loves humanity. He genuinely suffered through temptation, resisting unto blood. He wants to heal the broken hearted. He wants to heal those inflicted with physical difficulties. He came to destroy the works of the devil. He is a loving God. He is also all powerful and could have created a world where suffering was not possible. So why do evil and suffering occur? God chose to create a world where suffering is possible, because otherwise, love is not possible (love by definition must be freely chosen – and it can not be a choice of freedom unless the opposite [not to love] is possible), and because the effects of a suffering creation would be irrelevant and would not point us to a restored creation (though he sometimes intervenes in response to the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person) which all those who love God will experience one day. For this reason, God does not stop all evil and suffering, because the free will choices of individuals would have no significance, and if God wants a world in which we can relate to him and each other, it must be a world of stability, or in other words, a world of real cause and effect that makes life generally predictable (even though it is too complex for us to always know specifics). Therefore, God does not meticulously control the happenings of the world, and thus not everything that happens is God's will, otherwise we would have to say he is responsible for the suffering and evil in the world. If bad things have happened to you, do not blame God, even if some preacher or theologian (wrongly) did who wishes to tout God's meticulous control of everything that happens. Rather, reach out to the God who hates what happened to you as much as you do, for he cares for you, and he will suffer through it with you and lead you to greener pastures.

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