Why am I suffering? Why are the people I care about suffering? Does God care? How can God be just and fair - surely I don't deserve this?
At some point I suspect everyone asks questions like these. There are times when we suffer greatly, and times when we see those we care about suffering greatly too. Suffering frequently seems grossly unfair and unreasonable and so we cry to God, or to the universe, or to whatever we believe in for an explanation.
The Bible is very realistic about suffering. It does not pretend that suffering is an illusion or that it is easily avoided. It does not give neat and easy answers to the pain that we feel. Indeed, a whole book of the Bible is about a man called Job who suffers greatly. His friends (if you can really call them that!) claim that he is suffering because he must have done something seriously wrong. However, in the end Job is vindicated.
Throughout the book, Job wrestles with how God has allowed him to suffer so terribly (he lost his children, his wealth and his own health) - is it because God is unjust? In one sense Job never gets to understand the reason for his suffering, but he is able to trust that God is good and just, even when he can't understand.
Job was a good man who endured great suffering through no fault of his own. In the story of the Bible, this points us forward to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was wholly without fault or wrongdoing in his life - always honouring God and doing good to those around him. Yet Jesus was rejected, betrayed, mocked, beaten and executed in the most painful of ways.
Yet, amazingly Jesus' suffering opens a way for us to know God, and in the future to enjoy his presence without any suffering. As John 3:16 tells us:
Please do join us on Sunday mornings as we wrestle with the issue of suffering - and look to the one who suffered to bring us eternal life.
Do you want to investigate what the Christian faith is all about? Are you someone who would like to consider again the essentials of what it means to be a Christian? Do you want to find out (or be reminded of) what is at the heart of Christianity? Do you want to think about how you could share the truth about Jesus with others? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then Essentials is for you!
Essentials will meet over 5 weeks, beginning on Sunday 9 September at 6.30pm. After beginning with tea and coffee, we'll watch a short video. Then there will be the chance to consider and discuss a passage from Luke's Gospel together in groups.
Please do come along, and invite others too!
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45 NIV)