Does God Suffer? Chaos in Paradise

The last few years we have found ourselves in a position to minister to and comfort those who have lost their homes in northern Israel being victims of rockets launched from Hezbollah’s lair in Lebanon; to families who lost their children in suicide bombings; and school children who race to bomb shelters when they hear the “red color” sirens sounding the alarm that Hamas in Gaza fired more rockets into their town – because of the stress and fear the children wet their beds and rock back and forth while sitting not even realizing they are doing this motion. They have nightmares; parents weep and struggle because they have no money to buy food. Holocaust survivors live in poverty within the walls of Israel. And now the new threat of the so-called Arab Spring with the change of power and the emboldened nefarious leader of Iran clanging his swords at Israel creates another level of stress and suffering. Does God feel this suffering and fear?

What They Thought

The early church fathers, both Latin & Greek insisted upon what is called the “impassibility” of God.  Basically, this means, while God-made-man experiences suffering, God himself does not.  Yet, portions of the Hebrew scripture narrative imply God does have feelings and does react to His creation. 

Anthropomorphisms

Understandably so, those who advocate a strict “impassibility” realize that God is not completely apathetic.  On the other hand, when the scripture narrative describes God in human terms (anthropomorphisms) i.e., hands, eyes, etc. we understand that God is a spirit and is bigger than our physical universe, or our ideas and understanding of personifying God. Is there something to be learned from the scripture when it ascribes human emotions and human features to God – does it reveal something about the Creator God?

God Did What?

Before the Incarnation of the Messiah we find it stated of God:

  1. “His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel (Judges 10:16).”
  1. “Is Ephraim My dear son?  Is he a pleasant child? For though I spoke against him, I earnestly remember him still; therefore My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him, says the LORD (Jeremiah 31:20).”
  1. “How can I give you up, Ephraim?  How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim?  My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred (Hosea 11:8).”

After the Incarnation it is stated of Jesus:

  1. “Now it happened, the day after that He went into a city called Nain;...And when He came near the gate o the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow…When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, Do not weep…(Luke 7:11-13).
  2. “Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled…Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, See how He loved him (John 11:33-36).”
  1. “But when He saw the multitudes He was moved (Matthew 9:36).”

Looking at these passages if we learn anything at all, we learn that before the birth of Jesus, God was directly affected by the trials & anguish of his creation. After the Incarnation we find God identifying with human pain and responding with immeasurable love.

In Other Words

Our suffering causes God to grieve; God cries when we cry; God hurts when we hurt.  This of course does not diminish who God is in terms of his essence, being all power, all knowledge, everywhere present.  If human beings, created in God’s image, can make suffering their own through their love for others, how much more can God, who is love, make suffering His own.  

In other words, if a human being is affected by another’s sorrow and pain, God is more affected.  Why? God created us out of an act of love, and is not indifferent to the angst we experience. He created us and is involved and identifies with us – even proving his involvement by taking it to the ultimate expression of love and concern, the Cross.

God Does Cry

Simply, God cries when someone dies; He has compassion on those who are ill; He sorrows for the children who do not have a meal; His heart yearns for the one gone astray; He has sympathy for those in need.

Our sorrow is mingled with joy because Christ the Passover lamb brings hope and answers in our time of need.  God expressed his love through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The resurrection proves that he is God. God is not indifferent to the sorrows of this world – and that brings an amazing comfort to my heart.

Hands and Feet and Toes and Nose

Being created in God’s likeness we can emulate Him by being His hands and feet bringing comfort to fellow human beings. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Psalms 30:5).”  You can be part of bringing joy to others.  Israel Today Ministries does just that – bringing joy and hope, through practical and profound means!

  1. We provide thousands of meals for the hungry. 
  2. We connect people with medical needs to those who can help. 
  3. We counsel those who grieve the loss of loved ones because of war or terrorist attack. 
  4. We share the gospel with Jew & Arab.

Your gifts help us to feed one child at a time like those you see in the photo.  Your partnership is used of God in big ways – Thank you for supporting Israel Today Ministries!

May you be God’s hands and feet in a world of great need – Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and always remember: time is short, life is precious, and Jesus is coming soon.