Suffering – Does God care about our pain?
Suffering – Does God care about our pain? Titus Buita
The problem of pain has always been a challenging topic for discussion because everybody relates differently to the experience of suffering.
Moreover, when trying to bring God into a discussion on such a sensitive topic, some people immediately shut off the conversation or avoid any attempt to even consider the possibility of God’s help in difficult times.
While it may be easy to provide an intellectual answer to this problem, it is almost impossible for that answer to fulfil the existential crisis that pain and suffering cause in someone’s life. No amount of rationality is sufficient for a mother who has just lost her new-born baby, or for a husband who has lost his wife to cancer, or for a child, abandoned by his parents.
The problem of pain and suffering goes beyond logic and rationality. However, that doesn’t mean there is no solution to this issue. The solution is love and hope. Why love and hope? Love helps us persevere through suffering while hope helps us to not lose sight of the meaningfulness of life.
The truth is that God does care for our suffering and provides the help we need to heal and move on from such negative experiences. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Some would say that, with the exception of physical care, the only additional help one can receive is psychological and counselling support, but I would argue that there is also a need for existential spiritual healing. While most religions of the world attempt to offer a spiritual solution to fulfil the void in one’s wounded soul, the truth is they only provide a superficial self-help formula. For the atheists, pain and suffering are just part of the process of nature; for the Hindu and the Buddhist, pain and suffering is merely a consequence of their past life, for the Muslim it is the result of your own actions or perhaps a punishment from God. But that is not how Christianity sees the problem of pain. Christianity not only acknowledges the problem of pain and suffering in human experience, but rather points to its roots and more importantly, it provides the solution.
The God of the Bible not only provides healing from suffering, but He cared so much about human suffering that He himself came to suffer for us. The God of the Bible is the only God who directly intervenes when people suffer. Why? Because in comparison to the gods of other religions, the triune God of the Bible is a personal God who in his divine essence is love.
For example, if we search in history, more specifically in the Old Testament, we see how God intervenes over and over again when Israel experienced pain and suffering. Exodus tells us the story of how God delivered his people from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. Moreover, while travelling through the wilderness, God miraculously provided food and water for his people. In the book of Numbers we are told of an episode where Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole so that anyone bitten by serpents could look to the pole and be healed. In the book of Daniel we are told how God’s angel protected Daniel’s friends in the fiery furnace and how when they stepped out of the fire, they were unharmed. These are just a few examples of how God directly intervened in the midst of suffering. But this is not the only way God helps people to deal with the problem of pain and suffering.
God also provides the strength one needs to go through pain and suffering. For example, we see this in Exodus 15:2 where Moses sings and expresses the following words: “The Lord is my strength and my defence, He has become my salvation.” In Nehemiah 8:10, Nehemiah encourages the nation with the following words: “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
Moreover, in the New Testament, we see Jesus performing healing miracles many times. We see Jesus caring for the weak and sick, for the oppressed, and for the marginalised. Jesus was not ignorant to pain; he was well aware of human suffering and he always provided a solution.
If we look at the very core of the issue, the reality of pain and suffering is a direct indication that this world was not intended to be like this. The pain and suffering of this world are the result of a much deeper problem, namely the brokenness of sin. But God didn’t ignore the problem of sin, and because we were unable to solve this problem, He willingly intervened to bring reconciliation and salvation. God did this as a sacrifice on a cross, subjecting himself through His Son, to the most horrifying suffering, both physically and spiritually. Not only did he experience physical pain and death but he also experienced the weight of sin itself.
When looking closely at what other worldviews offer, I think Christianity is the only worldview that provides a solution to the problem of pain and suffering. You see, Christianity does not deny the reality of pain and suffering, but what it does do is provide us with the necessary love, hope and comfort we need while going through such difficult times. God not only cares for our suffering but he understands our suffering because he himself experienced suffering through His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, while we experience pain and suffering, we can have a relationship with God because he relates to us. The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 writes the following:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly the comfort too.
In this passage, the apostle Paul is expressing that only God is able to comfort us in our difficult times because He can relate to our struggle because Christ himself suffered. As the Son benefits from the comfort of the Father, so we can benefit from the comforting love and hope in Christ which we can also share with others to comfort them in their own suffering.
Therefore, to summarise, God not only helps us directly and indirectly while we are experiencing challenging times, but He cares so much about us that He himself chose to experience pain and suffering for our sake. Yet, he was able to endure all the pain and even death, so that we can be reconciled with God and receive the assurance that one day there will be no more suffering and pain, but only eternal joy in the presence of God almighty.