Week 5: The mystery of suffering

week 5

By Yolandé Korkie

1 John 4:10 “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (NLT)

Suffering is often considered a mystery, one which very few of us are capable of plumbing. In the Christian faith it can be likened to other similar concepts, where complete understanding eludes us, such as the Trinity, ascension and everlasting life. The mere idea of reconciling a loving God with the human experience of suffering is a mystery, but it also contains a life-giving truth. One that needs to be understood against the backdrop of the cross – where the seeming contradiction of suffering and love meets.

The cross is the best and the worst thing that has ever happened, in the history of mankind. When Christ laid down His life for us, we see the love of God not as a sentiment, but as a willed and relentless love that desired nothing but the best for us. The will of God is therefore love, and love suffered.

However, at the cross, we not only see His love suffering for our good, but it was also a sacrifice. Christ was willing to become a human (a sacrifice) and, in obedience, took upon Himself our grief, sins, and suffering (sacrifice on the cross).  Love in this context is therefore bound to a sacrifice, and that is what Jesus was doing on the cross – giving His life for yours.

If God was therefore working out His love for us through the suffering on the cross, then we can begin to grasp that suffering can have a purpose. Although we will not always have complete understanding of suffering, faith in the character of God  – whose love was revealed and suffered on the cross – enables us to believe that He has a purpose with suffering and can therefore be trusted.

Reflection: How does the cross shed light on the mystery of suffering?

Image: Pexels/ Thomas uit Apeldoorn