I often wonder how God feels about our suffering. When we hurt does He hurt as well? Are we in this alone? The thousands that go to bed hungry every night, does He see this? The broken-hearted widow, or the sick child, how does God feel about it all?
Around the globe, millions of people suffer daily from hunger, poverty, modern-day slavery, abuse, sickness, disease, divorce, financial crisis or depression. Life is harsh. Physical and psychological pain that oppresses mankind every day is unpredictable. No one can say, “I know what it’s like” until they have experienced it themselves. We all suffer or have suffered some type of pain, and have felt alone or forgotten. It’s in these times that we can so easily give up on God. We think that He doesn’t care, and we hold Him responsible for the actions and challenges in our life.
Life is a full package deal; from the moment we were born, hardship and suffering became a part of our existence. There will be many battles ahead, and many wars that we may have to fight. We may win some and lose some. But through all these times we learn and we grow. It makes us stronger.
Romans 5:1 to 6 New International Version (NIV) says it beautifully:
“5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
He numbers all the hairs on our head and bottles up our tears.
Many may see God as a majestic King who rules with an iron fist, turning tables and calming storms. We see the authoritative side of God. The God that shouts out, “Thou shall not kill!” and “Thou shall not bare false witness.” But He is also a merciful God that loves and cares for us. He has great plans for us. If He can hold the stars in place and is able to count the sparrows that fall, then how great His love must be for us. He is the God that numbers all the hairs on our head and bottles up our tears. He knows it all, our Father and protector sees and knows it all.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
In Genesis Chapter 37 to 50, we read of a man called Joseph who had many dreams of becoming a ruler someday. He shared these dreams with his brothers and they envied him and sold to the Egyptians as a slave when he was only 17 years old. He endured life in a pit and then in a prison when falsely accused of rape. While in prison, he was able to interpret Pharaoh’s disturbing dreams of the years of famine that were yet to come. He gave the Pharaoh strategies on how to save grain for the 7 years of famine that was still ahead. This gave Joseph great favour and he eventually became the prime minister of Egypt at age 30. During the time of famine, Joseph’s brothers were in search of food and they made their journey to Egypt. Well you can guess who they stumbled upon. Shocked to see that their brother, who they once sold as a slave, was now a ruler. Joseph, at that point, had all the opportunity to take revenge on his brothers. But what he said to them was so profound: Genesis 45:4-8 (NIV):
“4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come close to me.’ When they had done so, he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no ploughing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt’.”
We can’t see the end results of our suffering when we are in the middle of the storms of life, but God sees further than that moment. He sees the full picture of our life.
There’s this beautiful song by Billy and Sarah Gaines entitled, “How great His heart must be.” The lyrics of the song are as follows:
“How many snowflakes fall in valleys deep, on mountains tall?
Would I understand if I count them all?
How great are His thoughts than me
No human mind can know the full extent of the love God shows
He reached so far, He stooped so low to give all His love for me
And oh, how much He cares for me, Oh how great His heart must be
There’s no number high enough to count the Father’s thoughts of love
More than all the grains of sand or stars above
How much He cares for you, how much He cares for me
How great His love, how great His heart must be”
Here are 10 scriptures from God’s word reminding us of how God feels when we suffer.
1. God carries our suffering.
Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV) “4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
When he died on the cross He felt all the pain of mankind, so can we say that He doesn’t know how we feel?
2. God feels closer to us in our brokenness.
Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
You are not alone, He is with you more closer now than ever before.
3. God cares for us when society rejects us.
Jesus’s approach to the sinner and the so-called ‘misfits’ of society was very different to what the scribes and the teachers of the Bible believed in. Jesus counselled and spent time with them. Whether they were sinners, lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, beggars or unclean, Jesus made time for them, they were acknowledged.
In Mark 14, we read of a woman that is described as sinful. In the presence of all the disciples, she broke an alabaster box containing a very costly fragrance oil of spikenard and she anointed His head. She cried before Jesus washing his feet with her tears, and drying them with her hair. Everyone one in the room hated her because of her sinful lifestyle. But Jesus loved her and defended her. He came to her rescue, saying:
“Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.” Mark 14:6-8 (NIV)
4. God feels love for us and He will weep for us during the time of death.
In John 11:32 to 36, we see the deep compassion Jesus feels when Lazarus dies; that even in death Jesus feels our pain. John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Bible says, “Jesus wept.”
John 11: 32 to 36 says, “When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died’. When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ he asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’
5. God has given us the Holy Spirit as a comforter.
When Jesus departed the Earth to go to Heaven, He left behind the Holy Spirit to comfort and teach us. How precious is this? He gave us our own support-line. We have the Holy Spirit to lean on for help. If the same spirit that raised Jesus dwells in us; then to answer the question of where is God in times of suffering; if the Father, Jesus and the Holy spirt are three in one, and if the Holy Spirt dwells in us, then God is with us all the time.
John 14:15 and 16 (KJV) “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever…”
6. God’s Holy Spirit intercedes for us.
The Holy Spirit is not just a comforter, but also at times when we don’t know what to pray for and in our weakness, the Holy Spirit steps in and pleads and prays on our behalf.
Romans 8:26-27 (NIV) “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.”
7. God is moved with compassion when we feel that we have no direction in life.
There are times when we are at a crossroads in our lives and we are not sure which way to turn. Rest assured that God is moved by your complexity and He knows when you need direction. Let Him be the shepherd of your life.
Matthew 9:36-38 (NIV) “36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
8. God is moved with compassion for the hungry.
In Matthew chapter 14, we read about how Jesus was moved with compassion when the multitudes that followed him were hungry. Jesus used 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to feed thousands. He is sympathetic towards the hungry and He feeds them.
9. God is moved with compassion for the sick.
Matthew 20:34 (NIV) “34 Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”
From the New Testament, we learn about the compassion that Jesus had over the sick. Thousands followed Jesus for healing. He healed the blind, the crippled, the leper and many more.
10. God intercedes for us.
Romans 8: 31-34 says, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Can you imagine God praying for you? Yes, this Majestic God takes the time to pray on your behalf. He is seated on the right hand of His Father, and He is bearing you in prayer. Wow! The image of Jesus being our motivator, the commander in chief saying, “You’ve got this, you will pull through, I see the end of your suffering, the reward is worth the pain. Pull through, I got you.” In moments like these, I just want to love on God more.
So no matter what your suffering is, He feels exactly what you feel. You’re never alone. God is with you, feeling what you feel.