Insight To His Sight: Recognizing God’s Purpose For You
Chapter: The Face of God (Pages 137-140)
To attempt to answer the question of “Why do bad things happen?” Sin, whether it is direct or indirect, is the answer for why bad things happen in the world. It is hard to understand why a God who loves us so much would allow us to suffer from indirect sin, but we must be aware that we are born into it however you choose to look at it. We will face battles in life, but faith stands over it all, and knowing that all we see around us is not all that exist is where we find closure and understanding.
Jesus did not ever give a philosophical answer to the problem of pain, but he did give an existential answer. Although we do not know why a particular bad thing occurs, we can learn how God feels about it. Jesus gives God a face, and that face is streaked with tears.
In Jesus, God presents a face. Anyone who wonders about the suffering and groaning on this planet need only to take a look at his face. James, Peter, and John had followed Jesus long enough for his facial expressions to be permanently etched on their minds. By watching Jesus’ expressions to a hemorrhaging woman, a grieving centurion, a widow’s dead son, and epileptic boy, and old blind man, they learned how God felt about suffering.
To know how Jesus felt about family members who die, we can begin to understand by Jesus weeping after his friend, Lazarus, died. This gives us an idea of how God feels about those close to us, our blood, who die.
We can also see how Jesus felt when he looked out over Jerusalem and realized the fate awaiting that fabled city. He sighed at one point in Matthew 23:37, using an image he must have drawn from rural Galilee. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”
After the fire races through a barn, a farmer may find the corpses of scorched hens, wings outstretched, lying on the barn floor. The mother has protected them from the fire, sacrificing her own life in the process. That is what Jesus yearned for—to take the punishment vicariously for his people.
When Jesus Christ faced pain, he responded just as anyone else does. He did not pray in the garden, “O Lord, I am so grateful that you have chosen me to suffer on your behalf. I rejoice in the privilege!” No, he experienced sorrow, fear, abandonment, and something approaching desperation. “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
In the words of Isaiah 52–53, we see a vivid account written before Jesus’ birth.
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has not stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
“He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from who men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely, our grief He himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall upon Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth…His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence (Innocent)…(Key Point: Don’t you know that the Angels would protect him in a world like today…) nor was there any deceit in His mouth. (He battled the spirit world for us and God, The Father, knew what he was up against…) But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”
Just as the tragedy of Good Friday was transformed into the triumph of Easter Sunday, one day all war, all violence, all injustices, all sadness will likewise be transformed. Then and only then will we be able to say, “O death where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Only then will the urgent question form the Old Testament resolve. Do we matter? Does God care? We must live in faith, aware that those final answers will lack a final answer until that decisive day when God does act spectacularly in Jesus’ second coming….