Perfect in Suffering - 17 April 2020

By Louise Gevers

But he endured the suffering that should have been ours, the pain that we should have borne … But because of our sins he was wounded, beaten because of the evil we did … All of us were like sheep that were lost, each of us going his own way. But the LORD made the punishment fall on him, the punishment all of us deserved. Isaiah 53:4-6 GNT

The world is suffering right now and everyone is affected. For some, lockdown seems like a prison sentence, accompanied by anxiety, pain and dread; for others it holds hope. Separation, hunger, sickness, personal loss and prolonged waiting are all forms of suffering. So too is living with a terminal illness, or watching someone you love in pain. Facing the unknown also affects us.

Inextricably woven with the suffering of human circumstance is the suffering of the human condition, that which the Bible calls sin. We so often treat each other in ways that aggravate, rather than alleviate, the suffering of circumstance and we don’t know how to deal with its effects. And yet, that God uses suffering for good is seen time and again in the Bible, especially through His Son.

Jesus brings something different into this world of suffering. He brings hope that is born of love, truth with mercy and grace. We believe that this striking passage about the Suffering Servant in Isaiah is fulfilled in Jesus, more specifically, fulfilled in the dramatic events of this week that changed the world as He willingly embraced suffering for our sake.

Jesus was misunderstood and maligned by the jealous, unbelieving Teachers of the Law who accused Him of blasphemy, rejected His teachings, denounced the miracles He’d performed and ultimately plotted His death.

On the Wednesday of this week in history Jesus was in the home of Simon the Leper, someone who, by implication, He had freed from the suffering of circumstance. Lovingly, He interacts with those around him in their situation even as He bears the weight of the consciousness of His own impending suffering. Perhaps Mary intuitively sensed something of this as she washed his feet with her tears and anointed Him as for burial.

The picture of the Suffering Servant makes it clear that Jesus suffered not for his own sin, but for ours. Blameless, He accepted onto Himself all the sin of all the world to be redeemed on the cross as the sacrifice for our sin; the Perfect for the sinful. Such Love incarnate, such “Love divine, all loves excelling” liberates us to love one another.

Love brings hope into every circumstance and “perfect love drives out fear”. (1 John 4:18)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, Thank You for Your sacrificial love, for your perfect suffering, and that in You I can know love, hope and peace in my own suffering. Amen