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When he was president, Bill Clinton used to look deep into the camera and—squinting his eyes and clenching his fist for effect—emphatically declare: “I feel your pain.”  Many Americans believed him.  (He did win two elections after all!)  They thought he was speaking directly to them; that he sincerely understood their struggles.

But how could he?  He was the most powerful man in the world!  He lived in the decadent luxury of the White House, traveled in Air Force One, enjoyed the round-the-clock protection of the Secret Service, had access to the best health care available, and on and on.

How could he understand what it’s like to live in the abject poverty of Appalachia; or try to survive the violent streets of the South Bronx; or have a health crisis and not be able to pay for life-saving treatment? 

The only way he could “feel our pain” is if he gave up all the privilege of being President; if he came out of the White House to live in a shack in Appalachia or a housing project in the Bronx.    

He never did.  No president has.  No president would ever contemplate such a thing, giving up the privilege of the Presidency to truly empathize with us.

As a Pastor, I’ve known a number of parents whose children have suffered from some terrible disease, which in several cases became terminal.  Accompanying them through this, one thing became abundantly clear: as much as the children suffered, the parents, having to watch their pain, suffered more.  Because they loved their children so deeply, these parents agonized over every little thing their children had to go through. 

Matthew 25:31-46 records Jesus’ well-known description of the Final Judgment where He says He will solemnly declares: “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers or sisters, you did to me.”  His statement is usually interpreted moralistically—be charitable because what you do for the most needy you are actually doing for Jesus as well.  And this is a good way to interpret what he says here.  But there’s more to it—radically more.

People often mistake this passage as a parable.  It isn’t.  Jesus’ intention is to describe the reality of the Final Judgment.  And what this implies is earth shattering.  The reality is that whatever happens even to the least among us—in other words, to any one of us—happens to Him.

Jesus, the Eternal Son of God—God Himself—actually made Himself vulnerable to our pain.  The most powerful being in the Universe gave up all the privilege of His divinity so He could experience all we have to, including death, death on a cross.  

So, like a loving parent, God actually agonizes over everything we have to go through.  He willingly suffers with us. 

God feels your pain!

So, no, God hasn’t made it perfectly clear why He allows suffering.  But, it can’t be because He doesn’t love us.

And, it can’t be because suffering is meaningless—since God Himself willingly suffers, there must be some infinitely larger, infinitely greater purpose behind it.  Since God Himself willingly suffers, we can know that allowing suffering must be absolutely necessary to His perfect purpose with us.

When you suffer, you can be sure that God is right there with you, feeling your pain—that’s how much He loves you!

Why do you think God allows suffering?  Does the reality of suffering prevent you from believing?  Does suffering challenge your belief in a loving God?

I’d love to hear what you think!  You can share your comments with me by going to the “Contact E.J.” page of the Raising Jesus website.  And if you want to read more articles like this one, please “Like” the Raising Jesus Facebook page so we can keep you updated on future blogs, videos, and announcement.

About Me

E.J. Sweeney is a true skeptic. He needs to see to believe. Hard Evidence. Compelling Proof. Solid Logic. This is what he believes in. In college, he encountered questions that the superficial faith he was raised on couldn’t handle. So he began a quest for Truth, a quest for the answers to life’s ultimate questions.

EJ Sweeney

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