Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Where He Is

In my previous post, I gave my personal emotional experience of knowing God within my suffering. But, of course, in order to properly know God, and to test these theories and experiences, is to compare them to the Bible.

The Bible is what Christians call "God-breathed" which means that, although it was written by flawed and sinful human beings, God inspired these authors with what to write, almost like a dictation. So the words of the Bible are trust-worthy and perfect and correct, provided you take the context of the time and location and author into account. Jesus himself is described as the Word of God - the same name we give to the Bible - and so we cannot accept Jesus and reject the Bible; they are one and the same.

So what does the Bible say about where God is in suffering? The answer is simple; right beside you. It's hard to imagine, the Creator of the heavens and the earth holding you in His arms. Many people, including Christians, sometimes (or always) think of God as distant or aloof, either deliberately uncaring about our suffering or that He simply can't understand what we're going through. First, God definitely does care: 1 John 4:8 (read: the first letter of John, chapter 4, verse 8) says "God is love." He is love incarnate and the same verse says whoever knows love knows God, at least to some degree. Second, because God loves, he can understand our pain. Have you ever been so moved by someone else's suffering that you feel their pain on their behalf? Jesus did in His time on earth. Someone who loves feels other people's suffering, and as a God who loves all of Creation, he feels our pain. Keenly.

So, God is love and feels our pain. That doesn't mean He's with me now, does it? True enough. But there's more. In Genesis (Genesis 28:15), the Lord says to Jacob "'I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go'"; Psalm 37:24 reads "though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand"; Psalm 147:3 says "He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds"; and Hebrews 2:18 explains about Jesus "Because he himself suffered when he was tempted [on earth], he is able to help those who are being tempted."

I guess my point here is that, because Jesus lived and because he is also God, at one with the Father our Lord, he knows. He feels everything we do, at the same time we do. When we're curled up in the foetal position and sobbing in psychological agony, He's there sobbing with us, clutching us to Him. As we're having another panic attack when we're even considering going out into public, He knows what it's like to be gasping for breath in fear of something you can't even describe. And as we're coincidentally standing on a bridge over a busy road, He knows that you're thinking about jumping off it. And it breaks His heart.

I take great comfort in music, it's one of the biggest...things in my life. I honestly can't tell you how much it moves me sometimes. So, naturally, some hymns/songs we sing in church really struck a chord with me at my worst time. I'll probably do a whole other post on some songs that have really helped me. There's a whole song by Casting Crowns called "Praise You In This Storm" on the subject of praising God while in pain, and it's wonderful. The lyrics are beautiful.

But some specific lines from other songs really helped me. The first are from a song called "Rejoice (Come and Stand Before Your Maker)": "All our sickness, all our sorrows // Jesus carried up the hill. // He has walked this path before us, // He is walking with us still; // Turning tragedy to triumph, // Turning agony to praise, // There is blessing in the battle // So take heart and stand amazed." The second set are from "From the Squalor of a Borrowed Stable": "Yes, He walked my road and He felt my pain // Joys and sorrows that I know so well // Yet His righteous steps give me hope again // I will follow my Immanuel."

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