At the heart of Christian faith is a commitment to a God who enters into suffering.
One of the fears many people have when they think about evangelism is that they will be asked questions about Christian doctrine and belief for which they don’t have adequate answers. One of those questions is: Why would a good God allow suffering to exist?
I understand the fear (and often the stunned silence) that might follow a question like that. It’s a big question! Yet, the reality is that no one—no Christian, or person of another faith or even no faith—can fully and completely answer a question like that. It is simply too deep; the mystery is too great.
Although the question of why may be shrouded in mystery, the question of meaning is not. As Christians, we have a great deal to say about the meaning of suffering, the way God attends to it, enters into it, and ultimately redeems it. About that we have much to say.
So a better question might be: Given the reality of suffering, where is God, and what does God intend to do about it?
At the heart of Christian faith is a commitment to a God who enters into suffering. Frequently, in evangelism, our conversations focus on explaining who Jesus is as divine; and yet, especially in the context of suffering, we need to help people understand who God is by focusing on who Jesus is as human. When we do that, we see that the crucified Jesus is the revelation of God.
The crucified Jesus stands at the center of our understanding of God, and the cross stands at the center of God’s relationship with all of creation. God’s compassionate love for the world takes on the form of suffering. As we walk with those who are suffering, hoping and praying that they might experience the saving love of Jesus Christ, we do well to remember that the atonement offered …