Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sufferings and Splendor

With all of the suffering that is experienced on earth, and all of the people who at least at some time and to some extent experience such suffering, it is breathtaking to consider that the same God who spoke the universe into existence would choose to come live on this earth and subject Himself to such tremendous suffering.

The existence of suffering and the experience of it grants glimpses of the character of this God. Ours is the God who would submit Himself both to living amongst the inhabitants of the earth who experience horrific suffering in various ways and who would taste of the most intense sufferings Himself.

It is apparent that we experience suffering although we do not choose it, and if we had our choice would clearly choose the avoidance of it. How unspeakable it is that our God, who enjoys infinite power, infinite joy, and majesty beyond our imagination, would come to this earth filled with suffering. (John 17:5 "And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.") The One who had never had a beginning came to give us a beginning in knowing and loving Him for eternity. The One who will never have an end came to put an end to the reign of sin in our lives. This One who exists outside of time, stepped into time to make a way for us when there was no other way.

1 Peter 3:18a
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God

This is the God that we serve. He is the One who loves so intensely that He would come to live here and die here to pay the punishment for our sins. "For God so loved the world" (John 3:16a). The infinite given for the finite that we might be enabled to know Him and enjoy Him forever.

Isaiah 53:5-6
But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned--every one--to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Consider the God-Man Jesus Christ and what it cost Him to come here and suffer so. Some may think this shows the value of those He came to save? I think it rather shows the value of Him to would come at such a cost. He did not have to do it... Who could force the hand of God?

I saw an excellent example of this God-like love recently as I watched Beyond the Gate of Splendor, the documentary about the 5 missionary martyrs, their families, and the conversion of a primitive and murderous tribal people.

Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Peter Fleming, Roger Youderian, and Jim Elliot were speared to death while trying to reach this violent tribe. It is interesting that these men had guns with them, but chose not to use them. These men loved enough to go to this tribe though it cost them their lives. Their family members reached out to this tribe and the whole tribe was converted. This is a very powerful example of the self-sacrificing love of God.

John 10:11
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

1 comment:

mwh said...

Thank you for this meditation on the incarnation and it's implications for the problem of evil and suffering. It's helpful, because I often forget this dimension, considering only the human perspective (i.e, "this is bad!").