This is the conclusion of my series Only a Suffering God Can Save
I began this series with an image of suffering, and a question, where is God in all this pain? Well it is obvious that while He may be omnipotent, God doesn’t act omnipotent. That upsets and disappoints many people. Some people won’t accept it and instead believe that God wills all the pain and suffering for some mysterious reason, saying His ways are not our ways. They are right about that, His ways are not our ways. Instead of ending all suffering He enters into it. He participates in pain in full solidarity us, the creatures He made in His own image. By suffering with us, He gives all suffering meaning.
The cross is teaching us that all human suffering is also divine suffering.
Once we realize that God is suffering with us we can begin to trust in Him. We realize that He isn’t behind all our pain, but in it with us. Then we can perhaps ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness for believing that He was beyond all pain and was sitting in heaven laughing at us, and hating Him for it.
People who have been hurt can trust, and even love, a God who has also been hurt. Only a God who has suffered can reach out to those who have suffered. Only then will they allow Him to save them.
What wounded or humiliated person could not look on the crucified Lord and not recognize him or herself? Who would not rush toward such a God who is in communion with our pain, humiliation, powerlessness, and failure? Who knows what it is like to be crushed by the world, to be broken by it, and then left for dead.
Jesus is the God of all who suffer. He is not in competition with any other religion or world-view. He doesn’t care about country or politics. The only battle He cares about is the one He fights against suffering and death.
Those who suffer have a God who does not condemn them or judge them. He does not stand above them or apart from them or their pain. Instead He hangs there with them. He flows through them. How different from the god preached about daily who does nothing but judge. Who seems to sit above the little powerless creatures he created and condemns them for not living up to his expectations. Who crushes those who displease him with his jealous wrath. How could that god save the world?
Instead we have a God who loves and wants us to love Him. Who doesn’t want servants, but friends. Jesus said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” It is in His pain that we are drawn to Him. In His wounds we are healed, for in them He has made all suffering redemptive.