As the coronavirus continues its rapid spread around the world, many are questioning why a loving God — if one exists at all — would allow such great suffering. If he is so powerful, then why can’t he put an end to the virus?
These are legitimate and hard questions. I myself have wrestled with them and know others who have as well.
The truth is, we may never get the answers to these questions this side of eternity. But we can be comforted by the fact that our God isn’t just cognizant of our suffering. He suffers with us. That’s what is unique about the God of the Bible.
Jesus came to this earth on a mission to lay down his life for us: he came to die on a cross for our sins so that our broken relationship with God would be restored. He empathizes with us. Psalm 103:14 puts it this way, “He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (ESV). The God who made us knows us.
We see this truth more fully explained in Hebrews 4:14-16:
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
So, if you feel like God stands at a distance from suffering, I want you to take to heart these three lessons from this passage in Hebrews:
1. God understands.
As the author of Hebrews reminds us, we have a high priest who is both sympathetic and empathetic. He has been tempted as we have been tempted. Jesus, as the Son of God and Son of Man, experienced physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain during his years on Earth. And as he hung on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus understands you, your situation and your suffering completely. You can bring your needs to him.
2. God cares.
We can come to God with confidence because he knows what we’re going through. He wants us to share our worries and fears with him. He wants to hear our questions. God is a great listener; he never gets distracted. He never gets tired of you and he never tunes you out. In fact, Jesus said, “Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it” (Matthew 10: 29b NLT). God is intimately acquainted with and aware of his creation, and we are much more valuable than birds to him.
3. God saves.
The God of the Bible is a God who saves people. Hebrews says Jesus is our great High Priest who has passed through the heavens. He is our rescuer and redeemer, the one who has made us right with God.
In a sermon on Hebrews 4:16, the renowned preacher, Charles Spurgeon, put it this way, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the power of the blood of Jesus with God can never fail. It speaks when we are silent, and it prevails when we are defeated … Let us come boldly, for we hear the promise in our hearts.”
At a time when many are suffering, don’t lose hope. Remember that God is here, he is in control and you are not alone.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Margoe Edwards
Nick Hall is the visionary of the Together movement, author of Reset, and the founder of PULSE, a ministry at the center of the largest millennial-led prayer and outreach efforts in the world. He is the president and CEO of The Table Coalition and sits on the board of the National Association of Evangelicals. Follow him @NickHall.