Suffering is an integral part of all human life and, in consequence, the Bible allocates an enormous amount of space to the subject. Even so, it’s very easy to feel isolated and shocked when Yahweh allows the unimaginable into our lives. We catch our breath in despair as we try and come to terms with something we know He could have prevented or could easily change. Loss, bereavement, heartache, rejection, disappointment, betrayal and all kinds of grief and pain, are familiar to us all. Often, what is happening to us seems so wrong and we become afraid. Fear cancels trust, and we lose sight of the fact that Yahweh will do what is best for us in any given situation. We have our own, set ideas of how the problem could be resolved but, unable to trust Yahweh, we become fearful that He simply won’t see things our way!
Yahshua understood how suffering ‘dogs the heels’ of humanity and, Himself, took part in that, learning obedience through the things He suffered [Hebrews 5:8], and giving Himself unreservedly to fulfil His destiny [Isaiah 53]. One agonising question is, ‘Does Yahweh send suffering, or allow it?’ Whilst another could be, ‘Am I being punished for something?’ Some questions cannot be answered to our personal satisfaction, but one thing we can be sure of is that, “Because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted, He is able to help and provide immediate assistance to those who are being tempted and exposed to suffering” [Hebrews 2:18, Amplified Bible].
Reflecting on human suffering, A.W. Tozer wrote, “But there is such a thing as consecrated griefs, sorrows that may be common to everyone but which take on a special character when accepted intelligently and offered to [Yahweh] in loving submission.” The idea of ‘consecrated grief’ is interesting, and, linked to the thought of acceptance and submission, becomes challenging. It’s important for grief to find expression, so we are not expected to suppress the emotion, but it could acquire a special character of its own. Intelligent acceptance of things we are unable to change and a loving, submissive offering of them to Yahweh, will promote consecration and beauty.