Where is God in Our Suffering?

Who is this God who allows suffering, loss, and pain? Why did He let you be tossed into the miry pit of misery anyway? If that is how God works, why would you want to have anything to do with Him? For one important reason: in this hurting and broken world, there is no one else who can lift you out and bring you through.

Dreams vs. Reality

In our own imaginations, it could be wonderful if a supreme being prevented every injustice, every tragedy, every illness, and everything that causes sadness. You may wish for a deity who would eradicate all hunger, poverty, abuse, and division—right now. But imagining a god like that or saying that God should be like that doesn’t make that kind of god a reality.

Why doesn’t God act the way we think He should act? Why doesn’t He operate on our timetable or do what we honestly believe seems best?

I don’t know. All I know is that there is a way God reveals Himself to us in this flawed and failure-filled world. He chooses to be with us, to walk with us through the pain, and to promise that one day, every tear will be wiped away and all things will be made new. You may earnestly desire a different kind of god, but there is only one God who has really shown up in the flesh and made Himself known. This true God entered human history—our real and brutal world. We know Him by His name: Jesus.

Theology of the Cross
Instead of making you comfortable, Jesus joins you in your discomfort. He died for you and broke the hopelessness of death by rising from the dead. He promised that complete restoration and relief will arrive. It’s just not here yet. In your raw reality, Jesus is the one who can help you, save you, and bring you through your pain. The apostle Peter said about Jesus, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There isn’t anyone else out there who brings genuine healing and peace to your dark places of hurt and heartbreak. But that is what we need. We need to be saved.

God’s journey with us in suffering is called the “theology of the cross.” The theology of the cross presents the helpful and remarkable truth that God is with us through it all. Seeing Jesus shoulder your pain demonstrates decisively that the God of the universe isn’t ignoring you. He hasn’t forgotten about you. He cares about you. He loves you and hurts with you. He provides real help and hope.

The Gift of Faith
For now, you’re on the journey. It’s not easy. But along the way, you’ve been given the gift of faith in the God who revealed Himself in the real person of Jesus. That is why the writer of the Book of Hebrews urges you today, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (10:23).

Who is God? “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

Post adapted from Getting through Grief: Eight Biblical Gifts for Living with Loss copyright © 2021 Michael W. Newman. Published by Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved. 

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Michael Newman

Heartbreak and loss have been regular visitors in Michael Newman’s life, both personally and in his walk with the dear people he served during more than thirty years of pastoral ministry. An author of several books, Michael also enjoys communicating the gift of hope in Jesus Christ through preaching, teaching, and mission outreach. He currently serves as a mission strategist, working to share the only antidote to heartbreak by planting new churches and sending new workers to share the Good News of Jesus. Michael has been married to Cindy since 1983. They give thanks for their wonderful adult daughters and their families.

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