Suffering and the love of God
So the intellectual arguments for defending God’s existence in the presence of suffering may check out, but how does God love us through the suffering? These intellectual arguments may deal with suffering, but personally are very cold and often removed from our trials.
It was the sheer suffering in my own walk that awoke me to thinking bigger questions about life and the biggest one was meaning, does God care about me? Does he care about my suffering? What does he know about suffering anyway?
Jesus is the human manifestation of God to his people, the second part of the triune nature of God (God is 1 in being and three in persons, in contrast we are one being in one person). Jesus is a crucial part of God’s love to us through suffering.
Jesus Had A Human name before birth
And she will bring forth a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us” (Matthew 1:21-23).
Jesus Had A Normal Human Birth
Although Jesus was supernaturally conceived, the biblical account of His birth demonstrates that He was a fully human child with a normal human birth.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger (Luke 2:7).
Jesus Was A Human Jewish Child
Now when they had seen him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning the child (Luke 2:17).
And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the child, his name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. Now when the days of her purification according to the Law of Moses were completed, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (Luke 2:21,22).
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law (Galatians 4:4).
He had A Human Ancestry
The genealogy of Jesus Christ links Him to humanity. In Luke’s Gospel His family/dynasty line is traced all the way back to Adam. (See Luke 3). As well as this his family line was human.
He Developed Like A Normal Human Being
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and humanity (Luke 2:52).
Growing in size and intellectual ability is a human trait.
Jesus Was Part Of A Family
The New Testament says that Jesus had a family. His mother was named Mary and He had four brothers and at least two sisters.
Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? (Matthew 13:55).
As Messiah He Would Be Human
The promised Messiah of the Old Testament was to be a human being.
He Was A Physical Descendant Of David
Jesus was the promised Messiah. The Messiah was to be a physical descendant of King David – a human being. God promised David.
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom (2 Samuel 7:12).
Concerning his Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh (Romans 1:3).
The Messiah Was To Be The Seed Of The Woman
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Genesis 3:15).
The Messiah Is A Prophet Like Moses — human
The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him (Deuteronomy 18:15).
Moses said the Messiah would be like him in the sense that He would be from Israel. The Scriptures are clear that the Messiah was to be a human being.
He Was From The Nation Israel
Jesus was recognized as being from the nation Israel.
Who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever (Romans 9:4,5).
Jesus Had The Essentials Elements Of A Human Being – A Body And A Spirit
Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy (Matthew 8:3).
His body could bleed.
Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water (John 19:34).
Christ also had a spirit.
Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things” (Mark 2:8).
Jesus Was Given Human Titles
For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).
And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:45-47).
There are plenty more…
Jesus is mediator between man and God
For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human (1 Timothy 2:5).
To be a mediator Christ had to be a human.
He Was Called A Man
But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did (John 8:40).
Jesus never gave the impression that He was non-human in any way.
Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know (Acts 2:22).
Who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:4).
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3).
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world (1 John 4:1-3).
He Was An Uncommon Man
No one ever spoke the way this man does (John 7:46).
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him” (Mark 4:41).
Jesus Showed All The Traits Of A Human Being
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1).
And when he fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward he was hungry (Matthew 4:2).
Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty“ (John 19:28).
Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore being wearied from his journey, sat thus by the well (John 4:6).
And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves. But he was asleep (Matthew 8:24).
He had no special ability to stay awake all the time.
Jesus Asked Questions
So he said to them, “How is it you do not understand?” (Mark 9:21).
And he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see’ (John 11:34).
Jesus Showed Human Emotions
At the tomb of His dead friend Lazarus, Scripture records, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it (Luke 19:41).
Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mark 10:21).
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
On the next day, when they had left Bethany, he became hungry. Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if perhaps he would find anything on it; and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs (Mark 11:12,13).
So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” (John 2:15,16).
Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour’ (John 12:27).
After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me” (John 13:21).
Jesus, Like Other Humans, Prayed
Only humans can pray to God. Jesus prayed often.
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. (Hebrews 5:7).
Jesus Suffered Pain
And being in agony he was praying very fervently; and his sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground (Luke 22:44).
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged (John 19:1).
Jesus Experienced Death
Like other humans He died.
But when they came to Jesus and saw he was already dead, they did not break his legs (John 19:33).
Jesus is human
Thus the Scriptures are united in their testimony to the genuine humanity of Jesus. There is never any indication given that He was somehow non-human. He experienced growth, hunger, tiredness, sadness and death just as other human beings experience. He was not given any special immunity from these experiences.
Jesus Identified With Humanity
This is important for us to realize. He was born, He lived, and He died, experiencing the same things we do. Therefore, He is able to identify with our feelings when we pray to the Father through Him.
For in that he himself has suffered, being tempted, he is able to aid those who are tempted (Hebrews 2:18).
There was no special treatment given Jesus while here on earth. He felt the same things as every other human being feels.
The fact that Jesus’ humanity was real is made clear by the entirety of Scripture. The genuine reality of the humanity of Jesus Christ must be at the basis of any true conception of His character and His work.
What his death did
Jesus lived the perfect sinless life, he died for us so that we could be made right with God. How does that happen? Jesus takes our place, he places the sin of the world on his shoulders. When Satan charged God for being unjust, for not dealing with the sins of God’s people, the people in the Old Testament for example, Jesus sent his son, God himself, as an advocate to take on the burden of the sins of those who want his son. Jesus’ death paid and paved the way for us to know and be in relationship with God. On the judgement day, if you are a Christian, because Jesus died for you, When the final charge is made, God doesn’t see your sin, he sees Jesus, your advocate.
- Took on our sins and allowed us to be right with God
- Gave us access to the Father through Jesus
- Defeated Satan in the heavenly realms, casting him out permanently (The Cosmic conflict)
- Gives us knowledge of safety on judgement day despite our sin
What his resurrection did
- It has given us a new life (1 Peter 1:3)
- A living hope (1 Peter 1:3)
Jesus is the firstfruits of a life to come, those who were witnesses informed us of what we need to know. We can live an abundantly encouraging life now for Jesus with our minds set on heavenly things. The resurrection is a Hope, a foretaste of the wonders to come. It is a sign that death has no sting, it is not the end, but the way into a world to come.
What this gives the suffering person
You’re not alone when you go through suffering. God knows your name, he knows who you are and what you’re going through. God promises to be with you through your suffering, he can give you the strength to endure. Not only does God exist, but he loves you, seeks after you, offers you hope and offers that in time, will make all things new. Through Jesus, we can know the personal love of God.
Now one thing to remember my Christian friends when sharing this. When talking about suffering, always start here, how much Jesus cares, not with the logical and probabilistic arguments—they come during peace time. If someone’s just been diagnosed with cancer, don’t start cracking out the logical argument!
As a Christian however, you can look at the larger framework with confidence that suffering is understandable, especially when it comes your way and you have a grounded understanding of suffering.
It says in Revelation 21:4
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away
I have not seen any satisfying answers for the problem of evil outside of the Judea-Christian worldview.
There is only one God who experienced suffering, and it was done in the form of the son, Jesus Christ.