We are constantly confronted by suffering, so often random and unfair.
Why does God allow such suffering?
Theologians and philosophers have wrestled for centuries with the mystery of undeserved suffering.
In the end we may never know the specific reason for our suffering other than to enable us get to know the sovereign God who knows suffering. He is defined as LOVE. He alone offers hope and love, the greatest stabilising forces in the face of suffering and uncertainty.
Our suffering is also His suffering. He is not a distant God, but one who is very near and with us in our suffering.
At the centre of history and at the heart of the universe is the suffering of God on the cross. Jesus predicting his own death said: “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed to some people who want nothing to do with God. They will murder him – and three days later he will be raised to life.” He was able to take the greatest evil ever committed and use it for the greatest good.
The biblical narrative is that whatever the enemy intends for evil, to create fear, hatred and division God uses for good.
In all of life there will be pain and it’s about what we do with our pain. Healthy religion is about what we do with our pain because we will have it. That’s why the cross is at the centre of our religion as the symbol, the image of who alone can transform us.
It was Martin Luther King who had a dream that one day his children will live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character. Okirano Tilaia, Cashmere High School’s Head Student gave a speech at a vigil held in remembrance of those who lost their lives in last week’s shootings and he quoted him:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Let us have a dream that this tragedy can challenge us to tear down walls of mistrust and division and allow the anger and the pain and the betrayal that we feel to transform us, otherwise we will only transmit it.
A prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.
“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Amen.
Richmond Community Church