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After a crisis or tragedy, it is often hard to be optimistic.
We struggle to see ‘hope on the horizon’, to see past the current disaster or situation.
We often reason that after experiencing pain, severe suffering or loss, we could never be happy or joyful again – at least, not like we were.
During a time of turmoil in my own life, I recall thinking to myself, ‘I just simply cannot believe that things could ever get better again.’
In the book of Lamentations, we read the cries of the people of ancient Israel (God’s people) as they grieve and mourn their suffering and loss.
In this book, they describe their pain and affliction with no deficiency of detail.
They describe the tragedy of war, poverty and desolation of just about every kind.
Their suffering was such that they ‘had forgotten what happiness was’ (Lamentations 3: 17).
Yet, among their pain and loss, they do not give up hope. Instead, they turn to God, trusting in his faithfulness, unwavering love and ability to restore them.
Among their cries of mourning, they proclaim ‘No one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone’ (Lamentations 3: 31-33).
What a profound statement! Often during tragedy, we can’t help but wonder if God is punishing us. If in his anger he wishes to smite us.
However, the people of Israel believe that God does not willingly bring suffering, disaster or affliction.
In the New Testament, we see that God does not willingly afflict suffering on his people because he is a God who suffers with his people.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we see God coming into the world to be with his people in their pain and brokenness, to suffer in our place and to show us the way to life ‘as it was meant to be’.
We see in the Christmas story that even from birth, Christ came into this world and encountered pain and tragedy as his family fled his home country as refugees.
On Good Friday, we remember Christ died in our place so that we might not bear the suffering of our sins.
On Easter, we recall how Jesus defeated death and was raised to life, a symbol of life restored, of things made ‘new’.
In Jesus, we see God not only unwillingly allows us to suffer, but also suffers with us and for us and gives us hope for a better future – a new life and a time where one day all suffering will cease.
Christ Church Anglican
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