Encouraging thoughts from Jeremy Berg on the glorifying of God through suffering:
When bad things happen in this world, and unjust suffering befalls the innocent, we often jump to the ‘Why’ question first. The disciples lived in a world where it was popular to believe that disease, birth defects, and other forms of suffering were punishment for sin — either the person suffering or his parents.
Today, many assume the same thing: This suffering must somehow be God’s punishment. But this is not the kind of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ. In this story, Jesus is asked why this man is blind – why, why, why? Good question, yes; but wrong focus as far as Jesus is concerned.
Jesus doesn’t answer the ‘why’ question. He instead focuses on what possible good, if any, can be made of this unfortunate situation. The Bible teaches a different world view than the one of Karma or angry vindictive gods sending disease to punish sin……
We can bring … much glory to God when … in the crucible of suffering and pain, we continue to trust God and commend ourselves to his mercy. For we serve a God whose greatest moment of glory and deepest display of love came during the most horrific moment of suffering of all — the Cross.
For those who are currently in the dark place of pain and suffering, remember that’s where God is able to meet us most powerfully and intimately.
He posts a great quote from Douglas John Hall which is worth repeating:
“The theology of Bethlehem and Golgotha—that is, of the enfleshment and the cross-bearing of the divine Word—directs us from the lonely and morbid contemplation of our own real suffering to the suffering of God in solidarity with us. Because God is “with us,” our suffering, though abysmally real, is given both a new perspective and a new meaning—and the prospect of transformation. Not through power but through participation; not through might but through self-emptying, “weak” love is the burden of human suffering engaged by the God of this faith tradition. Engaged is, I think, the right word. It implies that God meets, takes on, takes into God’s own being, the burden of our suffering, not by a show of force which could destroy the sinner with the sin, but by assuming a solidary responsibility for the contradictory and confused admixture that is our life” (God & Human Suffering: An Exercise in the Theology of the Cross, 113).
I love the thought that transformation of character takes place because God ‘engages’ with us in our suffering – how wonderful is that!
Read Jeremy’s full article here
Photo by Thomas Quine