Can God understand how we feel?
Published 1:57 am Saturday, September 22, 2018
At times in my life, I’ve questioned whether God can possibly know how I feel. Maybe you have too.
When I see injustices against people, I want to right those wrongs. When I see family and friends going through serious illness and death, I am saddened. When I see senseless evil such as the terrorist attacks and shootings, I am dismayed.
Can God really relate to how I feel? A story I heard many years ago offers an answer. At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne. Some of the groups near the front talked heatedly—not with cringing shame, but with belligerence.
A woman asked, “How can God judge us? How can He know about suffering?’ She rolled up her sleeve, revealing a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp.
In another group, a black man lowered his collar, showing an ugly rope burn, “What about this?” he exclaimed as he demanded that God explain his lynching.
Far out across the plain were hundreds of such groups. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering He permitted in His world.
How lucky God was to live in heaven where all was sweetness and light, where there was no weeping, no fear, no hunger, no hatred. Indeed, what did God know about what man had been forced to endure in the world?
So each group sent out a leader, chosen because he had suffered the most. There was a Jew, a black man, an untouchable from India, an illegitimate, a person from Hiroshima, and one from a Siberian slave camp. In the center of the plain, they consulted with each other.
They decided God should be sentenced to live on earth as a man! But, because He was God, they set certain safeguards to be sure He could not use His divine powers to help Himself.
“Let Him be born a Jew. Let the legitimacy of His birth be doubted, so that none will know who His father really is.”
“Let Him champion a cause so just, but so radical, that it brings down upon Him the hate, condemnation, and eliminating efforts of every major traditional and religious authority.
“Let Him be betrayed by His dearest friends. Let Him be indicted on false charges, tried before a prejudiced jury and convicted by a cowardly judge.
“Let Him see what it is to be terribly alone and completely abandoned by every living thing. Let Him be tortured and let Him die! Let Him die the most humiliating death—with common thieves.
As each leader announced his portion of the sentence, loud murmurs of approval went up from the great throng of people. When the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence.
No one uttered another word. No one moved. For suddenly, all knew….God had already served His sentence. For He lived among us and He understands and sympathizes “with our weaknesses and infirmities” and troubles (Hebrews 4:15).
Jan White is an national award-winning religion columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.