Probably one of the greatest challenges faced by Christianity and Christians is the reality of evil and suffering. At times even great thinkers are baffled by the seeming contradiction between the existence of a loving God and the fact of evil.
Many times people say “it is not my portion”. This is an expression centered around evil, suffering and pain, so when the talk of suffering is raised, people try to spiritually disconnect themselves from it by saying “not my portion”. And I ask; if it is not your portion then whose portion is it?
Still, for Christians and non-Christians evil and suffering are often at the forefront of our minds, particularly when we ourselves are suffering. How could a good God allow so much evil? Why doesn’t He do something about it? Couldn’t God have created a world without evil?
These are important questions which we will be addressed but not in details in our reflection.
Sufferings is a path everyone of us will have to tread. It is a part of life. It is a path we all will have to pass through. None of us can escape suffering. No doubt sometimes we suffer from our carelessness and other times we suffer out of the mistakes of others, and again sometimes we can’t even explain the reasons behind our suffering. It may come in form of an illness, or an excruciating pain, a broken marriage, an inability to provide for ourselves and maybe our family, earthquakes, tsunami and other environmental hazards. Today in Nigeria, we cannot hold a meaningful discussion about suffering without making reference to the hurt and pain caused by the loss of lives and properties in the North, or the killing and slaughtering by the Fulani herdsmen, or the killings in the Niger-Delta in the south leading to untold hardship and suffering. We will not discuss on the subject without making reference to the flamboyant way of life exhibited by most of our political office holders, living off the wealth of Nigeria while the masses are groaning and suffering.
Considering all the evil and suffering in the world, really does lead us to asking does God really care about us? I hope also that at the end of this reflection, answers to the above question will be provided.
Christ is the head, and we are the members. If suffering could have been avoided, surely our glorious Head and Victorious king, ought to have escaped. Christ shows his apostles his wounds to tell them, that they too shall have wounds. As his disciples, we shall be broken by circumstances, betrayed by friends, let down by colleagues and disappointed by family members. As a matter of fact, evil will come in search of us.
In the midst of all of our suffering, one thing should be paramount in our minds; suffering and pain wont last forever. Ps 30:5 tells us we will weep but even as we weep, let us realize the clock is ticking. Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes with the morning. Sometimes people suffer innocently. Other times we hear people say I am a victim of circumstance.
Well, know from the wounds of Jesus that life will hurt you. It will break you. It will drive nails through your hands. Looking at Jesus, one would have said innocence ought to escape suffering. Let us know that’s his ways are not our ways and his thoughts not ours (Is 55:8). Even after Pilate met Jesus and questioned him, he came to the Jews saying “I find no fault in him, therefore let him go?” But innocence did not escape suffering. Even the captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering; therefore, we who are guilty, we who are far from being perfect, should understand that life will take us through the path of pain and suffering leaving us wounded. Shall the body not be affected by the crown of thorns on the head?
When the master showed his disciples his wounded hands and feet, he was by that very fact also telling them suffering is necessary. In fact, the teaching that suffering was necessary was taught upon Mount Calvary. Every man who has ever lived, falls into one of this categories; a good man, a bad man, and the God-man. On Calvary’s cross, we see three characters. The thief, representing the bad, the penitent thief, representating the repentant, the good man, and finally we see the God-man in their midst. All three of them did suffer.
Jesus in showing his apostles his wounds, tells his them I know you have suffered, but greater suffering awaits you. But it does not end there. There is better. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: (2 Timothy 2:12) if we deny him, he also will deny us. He goes on to encourage them telling them not to be afraid. I went through suffering and I came out on the other side. You too will go through suffering, but like I did you too will do. Just like my father did not abandon me to the grave, so too He will not abandon you. Is 43;2 says “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze”.
You may not see me and in some cases will not even feel me, but know that I am with you always (Matt 28:20).
I need to mention here. Do not imagine, for a moment, that wicked men get through this world without suffering. They do, but we will never know because a lot of them suffer but in silence.
Thank you for reading.