The Suffering Servant

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The Suffering ServantPictures of children starving in Africa. Pictures of the Holocaust. Picture of homelessness. Pictures of children dying from cancer. Pictures of grotesque birth defects.

Any time someone mentions the goodness or love of God, atheists and agnostics want to throw emotional arguments into the mix. “If God is so good and loving, why do people suffer the way they do?” “If there is a God, why do innocent people suffer?” There are many fallacies in that argument, but I’ll give only two. One: Pain and suffering are in this world because of sin: “Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom 5:12). Suffering is in this world because of man, not God. Two: No man has a right to tell God how to act; He is God and I am not.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
         Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
         Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
         or who laid its cornerstone,
when the morning stars sang together
         and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7)

God knows far, far, far more than any man could ever or will ever know.

The emotional argument that a loving God would not allow suffering overlooks another important fact: God Himself, in the Person of Jesus Christ, suffered. In fact, Jesus has often been called “The Suffering Servant.”

“Surely he has borne our griefs
         and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
         smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
         he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
         and with his wounds 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.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
         yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
         and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
         so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
         and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
         stricken for the transgression of my people?” (Isaiah 53:4-8)

Jesus, the Suffering Servant, experienced more agony than you and I could ever fathom.

Think for just a moment about all the suffering Jesus did:

  • He left heaven to come to a world of sin, sickness, and death.

  • He suffered great temptation.

  • He had nowhere to lay His head.

  • His own family deserted Him and thought He was crazy.

  • The Jews wrongly accused Him of criminal activity.

  • His closest friends deserted Him when He most needed them.

  • His trial was nothing more than a kangaroo court.

  • The soldiers mocked Him as an imposter.

  • The soldiers spit upon Him and beat Him.

  • He was flogged within an inch of His life.

  • He was compelled to carry His own cross to the place of His crucifixion.

  • Soldiers stripped Him of His clothing in the sight of all.

  • His hands and feet were nailed to that old rugged cross.

  • He struggled to breathe on that cross.

  • While He hung on the cross, passers-by made fun of Him.

  • The thieves crucified with Jesus reviled Him.

  • God in heaven forsook Jesus as He bore the sins of mankind.

  • Knowing that you might never love Him back, Jesus hung on that cross for you.

The next time you want to claim that God doesn’t know about suffering, think again!

God bless!

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