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Passion: Does God Send Suffering?

God is love, and those who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 1 John 4.16

When we are suffering, when we see suffering, often our first response is to ask ‘why’?  We seek to find meaning in what is happening. It’s a human trait, we are meaning-makers, because we need meaning and structure. We seek reasons for things happening, the meaning behind the events, the causes of what is going on.

So we often hear ‘it’s God’s will’, or ‘God is trying to teach me/them something’, or ‘it’s a test’.

Nonsense. We are not pieces in a Divine game, where God moves us around in order to learn things, or sends afflictions in order to ‘teach us a lesson.’ That kind of God is a cruel and capricious God, a fiction of the worst order - because the meaning behind suffering becomes ‘because God wants us to suffer.’  This is not the action of a loving God, but a manipulative God.  It is not the God of Christian Scripture…

There are very few instances in the Hebrew and Christian texts which give definitive statements about what God is. There are places where God is described in metaphor, and given attributes.  There’s plenty of ‘God is like this’ language.  But there is one, clear, definitive statement about what God is. There is one inspired phrase.

God is love.

God does not send suffering, but God is with us in it - walking, watching and weeping with us.