The Face of God
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, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 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.
Matthew 13:44-46-The Message
44 “God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic—what a find!—and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.
THE WAY TO THE MOUNTAINTOP
IT WAS ALMOST sundown. We were standing at the bottom of a high mountain. But the ascent was very gradual as the mountain was spread out over a vast area and connected to other mountains, part of a chain. At its base were the beginnings of several mountain paths, each diverging from the others.
“At the top of this mountain,” said the teacher, “is a flat, white, circular stone. Find it. When you get there, you’ll be standing on the summit. Find that stone, and then return to me.”
“But which of the paths do I take?” I asked.
“That’s the challenge,” he said. “I’ll be waiting here until you return.”
So I chose one of the many paths and began following it. It wasn’t long before the sky grew dark, and it became apparent that I was on the wrong path. I chose another, and another, until finally I realized I was heading downward. At that point I began shouting in the dark for the teacher. He shouted back. Following his voice, I made my way back to him at the base.
“So,” said the teacher, “I imagine you didn’t get there.”
“How could I have?” I replied. “I didn’t know which path to take.”
“You didn’t have to know,” he said. “You didn’t have to know anything . . . except one thing. You were too focused on which path to take, but that wasn’t the key. Remember when I shared with you about the Hebrew word aliyah? Had you applied that here, you would have succeeded. The key was the direction . . . up. The white stone was at the pinnacle. All you had to do was to choose the higher path, continuously. And if the path stopped ascending, then you choose the higher ground. And it would make no difference where you started from or on which side of the mountain. If you just followed this simple law, it would have led to the exact place at the pinnacle. Don’t forget this. It’s one of the most important secrets in your walk with God.
The pinnacle of the mountain represents God’s calling on your life, His specific will and exact purpose and plan for your life. How do you get there? You don’t have to know where it is. All you have to do is continually ascend, continually choose the higher path, the higher ground, the higher footstep. And no matter where you started from and no matter where you are now, you will end up in the exact, specific, appointed, and perfect will of God, at the summit, the pinnacle of God’s purposes for your life.”
The Mission: Today, focus only on one course, one path, one journey, one destination, and one direction—up. Aim to go higher with every step.
Psalms 24:3–6; 122; Proverbs 3:6; Philippians 3:14
Excerpt From: Jonathan Cahn. “The Book of Mysteries.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/v7hZdb.l