Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Suffering God

By S. Michael Durham

“In all their affliction He was afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9).

What great comfort to be had from this brief word! It is incredible, to say the least, that the Lord God should be so in tune with me that every moment of pain, every instance of suffering, and every case of anguish I endure, He endures. We have more than a sympathetic deity; we have an empathetic God who truly feels our pain.

In the case of this brief text from Isaiah, the affliction of Israel was God-induced. It was the Lord’s just response to the nation’s rebellion. Yet, the affliction He inflicted upon them was also the affliction He suffered. Jeremiah said as much when he wrote, “For He does not afflict willingly, Nor grieve the children of men” (Lamentations 3:33). In other words, He takes no pleasure in bringing suffering into our lives. Although it is necessary God must do so, He takes no joy in it. His own soul is afflicted and grieved.

Remember what the Lord Jesus said to Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus Road? “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4). Every lash of Saul’s whip, each shackle placed upon a Christian’s wrists and ankles, and each stone crushing Stephen’s body was a lash, shackle and stone upon the heart of Christ. He felt it all; He experienced it. And, my friend, He experiences your every disappointment and heartache brought upon you by both external and internal forces. Not one pain you endure He escapes. Unbelievable as it may sound, every affliction including sin’s consequences finds way to the heart of God.

Can you hurt and God not suffer? Not at all. Can you be in a rainstorm and not feel wet? Only if you are dead. The Lord is neither dead nor separated from you that He cannot go through your affliction. You never need to ask Him if He realizes what you have to endure. You should hold your tongue when tempted to rail upon Him as if He is unfeeling. In all of your affliction He is afflicted.

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