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August 09, 2007

Is God there in the midst of our suffering?

As I travel to Rwanda next week, this is a question I have been exploring in my devotions: Is God there in the midst of our suffering? Here’s a little of what I’ve found:

God seems to ache when His will is not done on earth.

The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. (Genesis 6:5-6)

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing." (Luke 13:34)

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." (Luke 19: 41-44)

He also seems to suffer with us.

In all their distress [the Savior] too was distressed,
       and the angel of his presence saved them.
       In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
       he lifted them up and carried them
       all the days of old. (Isa 63:9)

God is also the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. (2 Cor. 1:33)

As Rhianon Lloyd of Le Rucher reconciliation ministry has said, “Not only is Jesus our Sin Bearer, he is also our Pain Bearer.”

Surely he took up our infirmities
       and carried our sorrows,
       yet we considered him stricken by God,
       smitten by him, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:44)

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Regis Nicoll

Catherine--a couple of extra-biblical perspectives that have been meaningful to be, especially during my bout with cancer:

"In carrying my cross,
I carry yours with you.
And though I bear a sliver only
of your cross.
You carry all of mine, except a sliver
in return."--Clarence Enzler

“Where was God when the Holocaust took place? At Auschwitz and Birkenau, God was unloaded from transport trains; was terrorized, starved, and beaten with slave laborers; was gassed and cremated…Christ died one-and-a-half million deaths at Auschwitz and Birkenau…”
--Elaine V. Emeth

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