This isn’t the most pleasant topic to discuss. I hesitated many times to bring it up, but suffering is a real part of life. The one who gave us life in the beginning and gives us eternal life through His sacrifice on our behalf, suffered more than we can imagine.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (CSB)
There is a massive amount of suffering that exists in the world today. When you consider history and the suffering that has accumulated over time, what creeps into our lives is infinitesimal by comparison. And this statement would stand to reason, considering we are but a part of that history and therefore contribute to the total suffering that has accumulated.
But it doesn’t make the suffering any less pungent.
Followers of Jesus enjoy mitigation of their suffering, especially when that suffering directly results from service to Him.
Mitigation has several definitions, but as we deal with suffering the one that fits best is the application of something which diminishes the effects of something else. Here the comfort given to us by Jesus, mitigates the suffering we endure.
For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will also share in the comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:5-7 (CSB)
Have you ever considered the joy of the redeemed as they go through bad situations? Often, we observe someone who for all intent and purpose we would consider have every right to be angry about their circumstance, but instead they are full of joy and that joy is overflowing to everyone around them providing encouragement to others, despite the tragedies in their lives.
Not that these people don’t care about their circumstances, but they hold on to something that exceeds the circumstance which lifts them from the situation. For the disciple of Jesus, it is the joy of our salvation and the relationship we share with the Creator. This is something nothing can eclipse.
There is a suffering that is beyond our reasoning. We can take stabs at trying to grasp this suffering but because we have not, cannot experience the suffering inflicted, we do not understand what the impact was in suffering. We cannot possibly fully understand this suffering, which I’m talking about. Here is a hint.
“Now my soul is troubled. What should I say — Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”
John 12:27-28 (CSB)
The words of our Lord as he looked forward to the cross and what would take place. He knew full well what was before Him. Despite that He endured it and in doing so, made a way by which we might be restored to him. We are in fact His mitigation for that suffering.
He desired a relationship with us so profoundly that he was willing to endure suffering we can never understand. The nails in his hands and feet were nothing. The flesh ripped from his back by the lashes were trifling. The crown of thorns that were thrust down upon his brow was not what was making the Son of God anguish over the coming event. Likewise, neither was the spear in his side or the death he suffered as our sacrifice.
The ultimate suffering, he endured for us was separation from the Father. He and the Father had always been and while He knew going forward, they would always be, until you go through this separation you do not understand the suffering God the Son had to endure to face separation from God the Father!
We can’t fathom it. Nothing that has taken place or will take place can compare to this one singular event that Christ Jesus has endured for us. He didn’t desire it, but that which He desired was His mediation for the suffering He was about to endure.
All he had ever known was unity with the Father and the Spirit. It was the only existence He knew. The only contrast humankind can experience that can even show up on a graph of suffering featuring what Jesus endured would be the unrepentant sinner facing eternal separation from God with no hope of remediation.
I can’t think of any mitigating circumstance that would buffer their suffering, unless it would be that they never knew the love and grace of God, so they wouldn’t have that to contrast their condition while they languished away in the pit of hell. But then, we don’t know all things either and part of that punishment for those condemned to hell could be that God makes them to understand what they have lost, so that the punishment might be complete. I seriously don’t know.
What I know but can’t fully understand is that Jesus in His commitment to redeem me, in His fixation to have a relationship with you and I, in His determination to redeem that which He had created, suffered in the most unimaginable way when His Father turned away from His Son covered with the sin of all of us.
It was “Unimaginable Suffering” which He endured to have an eternal relationship with us.
In His Grace,