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I am a freelance writer, and tonight I was working on an abstract of a radio program. The show was about a man who had trained for the ministry, and had gotten a doctorate degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is presently a religious studies professor, and he told how he had given up being a Christian, because he could not find satisfactory answers as to why a loving God would allow unspeakable suffering. He had wrestled with Biblical explanations, but found them unconvincing. So he just walked away from God. He calls himself an agnostic, and he says that if there is a God, He is a far different God than previously defined. He doesn’t believe that God is intimately involved in our daily lives. The man’s name is Bart Erhman.

Have you ever felt that way also? I dare say that none of us would pretend to understand why suffering exists, or attempt to explain it away with a pious platitude, or a flip answer. Most of us would have to admit that we don’t know the answers. All we can do is search God’s Word, and seek to know His heart, in hopes of finding clues. But as applies to so much in our Christian lives, faith is needed, to be able to accept things that we can’t always understand.

So I thought I would write on this subject for a few days–just a little at a time, so that we can meditate on, and deeply consider the discoveries.

Does God care when people suffer? Is He so distant that He does not hear our cries, or our screams for help? Is He too busy to care? At times it may well seem that way, but He tells us in Exodus 3:7, “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.”

(When I am talking about suffering in the days to come, I am referring to trials, hardships, and persecutions in life-not to illness and death. I do not believe it is God’s will for us to be sick. Sickness is from Satan, and while there is appointed unto each of us a time to die, I believe that God wills that each of us would live a full, satisfying life. So again, I will not be talking about illness and death, when I refer to suffering.)

In the passage cited earlier in Exodus, it says that God sees our misery. That is reassuring, because at times it seems like no one else does.  He hears us crying out, (and I believe He hears the cry of our hearts as well.) And then He adds, “And I am concerned about their suffering.” In the KJV it says, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows.”

The word “affliction” in the Hebrew means misery, trouble or poverty. God sees our misery, He knows our troubles, and is aware of our poverty.

It says that He has heard our cry, which means an outcry, or a cry of distress. Have you ever wondered, when you were crying out in distress, if God actually heard you? This verse says He does.

“For I know their sorrows.” the word “know” there means to know by experience, to be acquainted with, to recognize and perceive. To think that our God knows how we feel! He’s been there. He knows what it is to suffer, to be rejected, and to be mistreated cruelly. And He understands our emotional pain also. How exciting that when I looked the word “sorrow” up in the Hebrew, it meant physical pain and mental pain. God knows your physical and mental pain.

That’s what I want to leave you with today. We do not have a God (Who) is watching us from a distance. We have a God who is very near, and is watching over us closely. He does hear our cries, and He does see what we are going through–the big things and the small things. Anything that is of concern to us, is of concern to Him. He cares when we are hurting physically, and He cares when we are hurting emotionally. He is concerned about our suffering…      (See Part 2)

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