(30) suffered . . .

I can’t think of any other way to make a human sort of world than the way God made it. The only “perfect world” that I can dream up inevitably turns out to be either the solitary splendor of God, or a lifeless realm of the dead. But whenever I have acted in “solitary splendor” as though I were the lordly center of the universe, I have created a wasteland of suffering around me. Somebody will surely suffer if I try to live as though I were really in a make-believe world of my own-—a world God never made-—doing things that God has clearly forbidden. Unbelief in the goodness and wisdom of God will always lead me to bitterness in my times of trial.

Jesus Christ our Lord suffered! Our Lord became thoroughly a man, exposed to suffering. The Son of God as the Son of man walked with us through the burning fiery furnace. He drank up the cup of human suffering right to the very last drop. Mary and Joseph knew all about anxiety and poverty on the night Jesus was born. Soon they became refugees in Egypt. Jesus was always like a stranger in his own family and hometown. Nobody understood him. The ideals and practices of his people outraged his deep sense of the importance of reality and compassion. Years passed by as he wrestled in spirit and in prayer with what to do about it. Though he felt intensely about the unnecessary suffering men were causing, he had to wait and wait. Sometimes he was strongly tempted to take up the ways of the world’s troublers, to beat them at their own game. But he firmly resolved to be faithful to the principle that only truth and love will really change the world and eliminate unnecessary suffering.

Jesus knew that the forces that fatten on falsity would mount an attack on his truth. He knew that the greedy, proud ones would find his concern for all people a menace. For Jesus, the way to end suffering inevitably led through his own suffering, to death. They did call his truth subversive, heretical, blasphemous. They denounced his works of healing and compassion as deeds of the devil. Oh how he suffered! Even Jesus’ best friends praised him for the wrong reasons, then betrayed, denied, and forsook him. He sweated blood as he asked in his heart why men chose to be so perverse and do such cruel things to one another and to him. It could have been so different. His last hours were utter humiliation, rejection, and agony. He has rightly been called the Man of Sorrows. I usually think of his wonderful ministry of teaching, healing, and helping as being full of beauty, goodness, and power. But he felt such deep compassion for the suffering people whom he served, that to him his ministry must have been continuous suffering. The Creed sums up his thirty-three years in one phrase, “suffered under Pontius Pilate.” What an insight!

Whatever path of suffering may lie ahead for me, Jesus has explored it right down to the end. And he kept his faith! Jesus never spared himself any kind of suffering that I may ever have to face. Not once did he pull a miracle to get himself off the hook. I’ll never be able to say that he doesn’t understand what I’m going through.