As much as we would like to have a purpose for our pain, the reality is that much of the time our pain and suffering will be a mystery. If we are fortunate we will be able to look back on our lives and notice that our suffering helped mature us in our faith, but we have to be ready in case we never get an answer to “WHY?”.
It is when we are left with more questions than answers that we must turn our attention to Jesus and the cross, for at the cross we realize that God also experiences pain and suffering. As we focus on the cross it should also remind us of two great truths that should help us when we experience the pain and hurt of life.
The apostle Paul in Romans 8:31-39 wrote:
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)
1. The Cross of Jesus reminds us the God didn’t spare His Son. (Romans 8:31, 32)
Sometimes we forget that Jesus’ life was not a walk in the park. It was anything but easy. Jesus experienced the death of his father Joseph, the rejection of brothers and sisters, the death of his friend and cousin John the Baptizer, the struggle of temptation, the rejection of his closest friends, and he experienced pain that few have known when he was beaten and whipped and finally nailed to the cross.
This is Jesus, the Son of God, and the Almighty did not shield Jesus from any of it. When bad things happen in our lives, when life doesn’t turn out the way it should, it is not because God who has failed us, but because our understanding of God has. The Cross reminds us that Jesus experienced pain just like we have pain.
2. The Cross of Jesus reminds us of the extent of God’s love. (Romans 8:39)
Only those who are parents can even come close to understanding the love God has for us. God allowed His Son, a part of Himself, to suffer and die for rebels. It is not like we were doing God any favors, we were in rebellion against His authority, and He still sent Jesus.
We are God’s creation, uniquely created to have a relationship with Him. He loves us so much that He sent Jesus to die for us, in order that the problem of our sin may be dealt with. The cross is a great symbol of God’s love for mankind. When we start to feel like God doesn’t care, all we have to do remember the horror of the cross so that we can be reminded that He does.
Pain can be a valuable part of our lives. God uses pain to create us to be the people He wants us to be and to give us a desire for Him. But the reality of it is that if we want to understand why there is pain or why suffering is part of our lives, we will never find a satisfactory answer. God’s ways are different from our ways and we will never understand everything that He does. When we look at the cross we should remember that God also suffers pain. The cross reminds us of the fact that Jesus experienced pain, suffering and death. The cross also reminds us how far God is willing to go in order to have a relationship with us. The cross of Jesus is evidence that God lives and that He cares for you. When you start doubting God’s love or His existence, look to the Cross and be reminded about the truth of who God is.