I have attempted an answer to this intellectual question here, but I wanted to explore the personal side of it in this post.
In my own life, many things have not worked out the way I had hoped. I have been quite disappointed. I’ve had childhood illness, watched my grandmother die of colon cancer when I was about 13, been through a painful broken engagement, been through a divorce, remarried only to struggle with infertility for several years, endured a devastating car wreck that has injured me permanently, watched my mother die a long and painful death at the hands of congestive heart failure, and wrestled with personal illness in adulthood. Above all, I have faced my own sins and failures with the pain that comes from regret and remorse.
But my suffering has not been particularly great compared to some, and for that I am thankful.
I have found the Christian faith to be a great comfort to me. The following quote from Steve Brown illustrates why.
In response to the problem of evil and pain, the Christian must always start with Jesus and the incarnation. Everything else is a dead end road. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). No other religious or philosophical system deals with the problem of pain in the unique way with which the Christian faith deals with it.
God enters time and space, and suffers with his people.
The infinite God says to us in our finiteness: If you could understand it, I would explain, but you can’t understand it. Instead, I will come to suffer and die, not to keep you from suffering but to suffer as you suffer … not to keep you from your loneliness but to be lonely as you are lonely … not to keep you from asking your questions, but to have mine, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus Christ has been there … and sometimes that is enough. He knows how much it hurts.
[“How Could He?” by Steve Brown, an article in “Key Life,” published by Key Life
Network, Inc. Easter / Spring 2009, Volume 24, #1, p. 2-3, 8.]
God comes to earth as a man in the Person of Jesus Christ. He suffers with us and for us.
His pain brings forgiveness of sins to His people, a people bought with a price. A people purchased as His reward.
This reward for His suffering gives us hope that there will be reward for ours. He suffered for a purpose, and we can know there is a reason and purpose for our suffering, even when we can’t see it.
He rose from the grave as a victor over all of the sin and death and misery that infect the world. He won a battle with all of the dark forces that would torment us. He gave us hope for a glorious future, free from our sins and struggles.
Taking the message at face value, I can respect the God of the Christian faith.
He lays aside His privileged position to walk as one despised and rejected. He left behind His riches to become poor.
He enters the fray against the mightiest foes. He fights and wins. He brings hope and inspires strength.
He rescues us from the fate that we all so richly deserve, and gives us gratitude as a gift to help us persevere.
“To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? Says the Holy One” (Isaiah 40:25). To whom indeed.