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Seeing for Himself

The fact that Jesus came to earth where He suffered and died does not remove pain from our lives. But it does show that God did not sit idly by and watch us suffer in isolation. He became one of us. Thus, in Jesus, God gives us an up-close and personal look at His response to human suffering.

How did God-on-earth respond to pain? When He met a person with pain, He was deeply moved with compassion. Not once did He say, "Endure your hunger! Swallow your grief!" When Jesus' friend Lazarus died, He wept. Very often He healed the pain. Sometimes He broke deep-rooted customs to do so, as when He touched a woman with a hemorrhage of blood, or when He touched outcasts, ignoring their cries of "Unclean!"

The pattern of Jesus' response should convince us that God is not a God who enjoys seeing us suffer. I doubt that Jesus' disciples tormented themselves with questions like, "Does God care?" They had visible evidence of His concern every day: they simply looked at Jesus' face.

The record of Jesus' life on earth should forever answer the question, "How does God feel about our pain?" God did not give us words or theories on the problem of pain. He gave us Himself. A philosophy may explain difficult things, but has no power to change them. The Gospel, the story of Jesus' life, promises change. As Cornelius Plantiga, Jr., has said: "We do not refer each other to the cross of Christ to explain evil. It is not as if in pondering Calvary we will at last understand throat cancer. We rather lift our eyes to the cross, whence comes our help, in order to see that God shares our lot and can therefore be trusted."

—Taken from "Where is God When it Hurts?" by Philip Yancey. Copyright (c) 1990 by Philip Yancey. Used by permission of Zondervan

Unbelief leads us to interpret God in the presence of the difficulty, instead of interpreting the difficulty in the presence of God. Faith, on the contrary, raises the soul above the difficulty, straight to God Himself. —C.H. Mackintosh