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And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; Ex. 3:17, KJV
We know that God rejoices over His people with singing. God has an unlimited capacity for joy because He is unlimited. But we don’t like to think of God suffering. We know and accept that God the Son became Jesus, and as Jesus, He suffered on our behalf. But somehow, the idea of God, the Eternal Father, suffering seems almost sacrilegious. That God, the Creator of the Universe, the Eternal One, the Almighty, the Everlasting Father, suffers jolts us.
I think part of the reason is that we often think of suffering as weakness. If a person is suffering from sickness, bullying, crime, mental distress, etc., it is because another person or thing is stronger than they are forcing it on them. No one chooses the agony of cancer, for example. A sickness has overpowered a healthy body. Very few decide to suffer at the hands of others - usually, they have no choice. Of course, if we equate suffering with weakness, then God cannot suffer because God is not weak.
But if the Father, under no pressure or compulsion [for no one can force God to do anything], chooses to suffer, that becomes a sign of strength. It means that God loves His children and creation so much that He not only sympathizes with our pain but also experiences it to the same or greater degree we do.
If you look at the above verse, God says He knows their sorrows. Some versions dilute its meaning, but it is the same word for when Adam and Eve knew they were naked after sinning. That was not just a discovery of nudity. It was a soul-searching, soul-crushing experience of being cut off from relationship with God. It is also the same word used when Adam knew his wife, and she conceived. That wasn’t just a passing, impersonal knowledge!
In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Is. 63:9, NIV
Our pain causes our Father pain as well. Pain is the risk you take when you love. God is perfect Love; therefore, He has voluntarily opened Himself up to pain. Anything that His children suffer, God suffers along with them.
Theresa Flores was a victim of human trafficking. She tells her story in the book, A Slave Across The Street [available on Kindle]. After she escaped, she asked Jesus where He was when she was being tormented. This is how she put it:
“How could you let this happen to me?” I demanded of God. “Where were you when I needed you? All those times, for all those years? As I lay there being abused over and over again?”
With calm clarity, I heard Him say to me, “I was right there with you, Theresa.”
And that has been the testimony of other trauma victims when they asked God where He was during their suffering. Christians under persecution have also testified to a unique sense of God’s presence as they were suffering.
No matter what you are going through right now - whether physical, mental or spiritual - your loving heavenly Father not only knows and cares, He is feeling the pain alongside you. He is feeling it, not because He has no choice, but because He loves you and will not let you suffer alone. Remember, you are not alone. You can reach out to the Father. For reasons that only He may understand, He may not stop the suffering immediately, but that is not because He doesn’t know or care. He knows intimately and personally what you are going through. He cries with You.
He wants to bring strength and comfort. If we come to Him in our pain [or after] and lay it at His feet, He will work good out of it in time and eternity for ourselves and others. This takes trust and obedience.
Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Matt. 26:53-54, NIV
Remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? He had the power and ability at any time to stop the process of the crucifixion. He suffered, not because of helpless weakness, but because of the strength of His love for you.
Christianity is unlike any other worldview. We have a God Who is personal and Who suffers with us in our trials. He will make sure that not even one tear is wasted. He will turn it into something beautiful in the end. The worse acts of men, the torment of sickness, the disasters of nature, all of it will be swallowed up by our personal God Who cares and Who will see that it is redeemed for the benefit of His child who is suffering and for the expansion of His Kingdom.
If you want more detail on how to know for sure God loves you, get my book, How To Know For Sure God Loves You.
And if you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, if you haven’t entered into the experience of being a greatly loved child of a caring heavenly Father, why not?