Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Our Suffering Savior

On the night that Jesus was arrested, Jesus prayed alone in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus had to have known at least some of what was in store for Him in the next 24 hours. Greatly distressed, He asked the Father that “this cup” be taken from Him. Matthew 26:39.

Over the next day, our savior was subjected to unbearable physical suffering. Scourging. Beating. Mockery and ridicule. A crown of thorns. Nails in his hands and feet. Nakedness to the noon day heat. Thirst. Suffucation. Excruciating death.

In addition to that physical torture, we believe that Jesus also experienced the spiritual torture of separation from His father. How else can one explain those stirring words uttered shortly before He died, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:45-46.

Even though Jesus had some sense of what he was about to face, He still felt abandoned by God. "Why, God, have you abandoned me." The sum of his physical emotional and spiritual suffering was so great that he could not help but cry out, in that moment, why, God, have you abandoned me?

Through this past Good Friday and then Easter, Heather and I have been reminded that we do not worship a Savior who is unable to unable to sympathize with our sufferings. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15.

As Jesus did on the cross, we have CRIED OUT to God in our pain. Jesus' exclamation on the cross demonstrates that the experience of suffering is greater than the mere knowledge or anticipation of suffering. Before Micah died, I could have given you an intellectual answer for why God allows people to suffer, but I could not show you a life (my life) scarred by suffering. Before Micah died, we didn't have a sense for what suffering really is, how it works in your heart, nor how God shows Himself strong through significant suffering. Before Micah died, did we really know God like we do now?

Nicholas Wolterstorff says, “God is not only the God of the sufferers but the God who suffers. The pain and fallenness of humanity have entered into his heart. Through the prism of my tears I have seen a suffering God. It is said of God that no one can behold his face and live. I always thought this meant that no one could see his splender and live. A friend said perhaps it meant that no one could see his sorrow and live. Or perhaps his sorrow is splendor. And great mystery: to redeem our brokenness and lovelessness the God who suffers with us did not strike some mighty blow of power but sent his beloved son to suffer like us, through his suffering to redeem us from suffering and evil. Instead of explaining our suffering God shares it.” N. Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son, P. 81 (emphasis added).

Praise Be to God! For He is not merely the God of the strong, but also the God of those who have lost and those who cry out to God in pain. This is the God I worship.

No comments:

Post a Comment