Monday, May 20, 2019. What are our associations when we hear the word “God”? Many of us think of great power, of the ability to do what ever you want. To be God means to most of humans today to be free of problems, of suffering, of pain.
But the biblical story is exactly the opposite. It is about God, coming into this world. But in what way is he coming? What is happening, and what is the message and goal of his actions? Let us look into this deep and important question today!
Christ's Suffering …
The apostle Paul writes about the suffering of Jesus, the Christ. Let us look into his second letter to the church in Korinth, Greece:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.1 (from 2 Kor 1)
Paul talks about the suffering of Jesus. Let us recall who Jesus is. According to the gospels he is the eternal word (John 1), who was with God at the beginning, and who was God at the beginning, and who became man and lived among us. Jesus is described as the son of God, the eternal son of God.
Now, the life of Jesus tells us about God. But it is not about God who would come with power and the sword. He is coming just as a weak human, and the only sword he has is his word.
The gospels tell us about the suffering of Jesus. He dies at the cross of Calvary at an age of about 30 years. The bible proclaims that he dies “innocent”, and that he dies for the sin of the world. He takes upon himself the sin of the world. God comes to us as a suffering God!
Our Suffering …
People who come to faith in Christ share his suffering. We can, indeed, say that every human in the world shares his suffering to some extent. We all suffer, from natural causes as well as from other humans. We live in a world where suffering is present on all of its layers, in each and every life.
Paul also talks about comfort. We cannot completely remove suffering from this world. That has deep reasons and deep meaning from the perspective of a God looking into a fallen creation. But in the middle of this fallen world, God is there, to help and to comfort.
Paul talks about the comfort which he experienced in HIS suffering. And he points to the comfort he can give taking the comfort he receives and passing it on. That is, indeed, an important point. We can ask ourselves: do we know Christ? Are we with him, and is he with us through the holy spirit? And do we listen to him, does he comfort us in our own affliction? Is our heart open to let his comfort reach our soul and our heart? Can we pass this comfort on to others? Were are you on your personal path? (Roland Potthast) ... further texts