BY COREY BAILEY
God is concerned about the suffering church
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.” Exodus 3:7 NIV
Did you catch that? God is concerned about suffering. He hears us when we cry out to Him in the depths of our pain. He cares when we are not sure how we will make ends meet this month. He cares when our bodies are in physical pain from sickness or injury. He cares when our hearts are broken through divorce or death. When His friend, Lazarus died, the Bible says that Jesus wept (John 11:35). He is concerned, He cares.
You know, we don’t like to see pain and suffering. As humans we tend to run away from things that hurt. One usually does not do a marathon of depressing or exceedingly violent movies for a reason. It’s too much to stare at and take in for a long period of time.
However, God’s eyes roam the earth. Nothing; and I mean nothing escapes His attention. He hears the cries of His people. He is not distant and unfeeling. He is a God who is near and is compassionate. He even describes Himself to us this way through scripture, “Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with [Moses] and proclaimed His name, the LORD. And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.’” (Exodus 34:6-7)
If God describes Himself as one who is compassionate, sees suffering and is concerned about it, we can know that God sees the persecution of Believers around the globe and is concerned about their suffering too.
If Jesus cares about the suffering church, we should too
“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.” Psalms 116:5 NIV
Here’s the problem, we tend to move from ignorance to being paralyzed. When we start looking at the same pain that God does, we are likely to discover that it’s astounding. It’s humbling. It’s too much. We often don’t know what to do and so, we do nothing because it’s all so overwhelming. We must constantly remember that it is the Lord’s shoulders which are strong. We must put the pain of the suffering church onto His shoulders and into His loving arms.
So, if it’s all so difficult and painful, then why should we care about those who are suffering, specifically our brothers and sisters; the suffering church? Do you want the simple answer? If Jesus cares about the suffering church, we should too. It’s that simple.
Sometimes I think about the fact that I have the luxury to look away. I discussed this briefly in a past post titled A Holy Panic, about how God doesn’t turn the channel, so to speak. He chooses to look at all the pain and suffering in the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I would crumble under the weight of that much suffering, but He doesn’t. His shoulders are strong, even when mine are very weak. I think that if Jesus doesn’t look away, and He invites us to follow Him, He is also inviting us to help shoulder the burden of the suffering church-our brothers and sisters.
Friends care about what their friends care about
When we have friends, we take interest in what is important to them. We care about their successes, failures, families, hobbies and health. Friends care about what their friends care about. If we are to be true Christ followers, friends of God, we must care about the things that He cares about. And Jesus, well, He cares about people. He loves them and has compassion on them. He is near when they sleep and when they wake. He is with them when they experience joy and when they experience pain. He knows the number of hairs on the head of each human being and there is no place one can run that is so far away He doesn’t follow. That is dedication. That is love. That is what He cares about-people.
It’s important to dialogue about difficult things and our responses to them in the light of Jesus. So, what do you think? Do you agree that we should care about the suffering church because Jesus does? What do you struggle with in regards to this topic and injustice in general?