Feeling others’ suffering

It isn’t just global warming that’s raising sea levels it’s the tears of those suffering from senseless acts of terrorism. And the terrorist acts keep piling up, to the point they become mind-numbing. “Not more utter stupidity,” I hear myself say at the latest act of insanity, and I simply want to turn it off in my head and not think about it.

And in one way I suppose my tuning out can be justified, because I can’t carry the world’s suffering on my shoulders; it will kill me too. I can’t do anything about what’s happening, either. I can’t step inside the heads of terrorists to understand why they do what they do, nor can I stop them doing what they do. I am utterly powerless to either change a terrorist’s mind or stop him before he acts. And up to this point it seems nobody can figure out what makes ordinary people do terrible things, nor can we come up with any way of protecting the innocent from people who just decide to crash their vehicles into pedestrians.

I can understand people saying, “My God, why is he letting this happen?” Does God have no feeling for those suffering as well? Could he not stop a terrorist act from happening? Well, yes, he could, but he chose another route. He let us make our own choices, and he allowed us to shape the world the way we wanted, knowing it wouldn’t work. It’s like parents letting their kids do what they must, knowing it’s going to end up in tears, but for humans it seems this is the only way we learn.

But like parents, God suffers when his children jump the rails. We know he does, because he showed us. It was all there in Jesus on the cross, who was up there to feel every bit of what it’s like as an innocent man to suffer. A terrorist act was done on him by uncaring, brutal people who cared for nothing but themselves. And he allowed them to do it to him, so he’d know what it was like to be human and suffer from senseless acts by insane people.

He cried the same cry we cry when awful things happen: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why are you letting this happen to me? Why? I’m innocent. Why are you letting evil people destroy good people?

But that was the moment God’s Kingdom began. It only began when God felt our suffering to the core. It’s on that cross, therefore, that we have our guarantee that God feels for our suffering and he will end it.


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