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Cross and Suffering: A pathway to fall in love with God

By Pray Eucha Titus

Gen 22: Isaac’s sacrifice foreshadows Christ’s Sacrifice

God has allowed suffering in our lives. We suffer for our wrongdoing.  We also suffer for doing the right thing. As Christians, we are called to suffer. In both cases, suffering is present in the world as a consequence of sin - like a symptom signifying a disease.

I Peter 3:17 - 17 says, “For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” Faith can pull us out of suffering and faith can lead us into suffering. Modern Christianity often talks only of Faith alleviating suffering. Nevertheless, suffering is promised by God and I Peter 2: 19 & 20 urges us to suffer for good and not evil. The greatest suffering/ pain that a mortal can endure is separation from God or eternal hell. Therefore, worldly suffering sends an alarm to the perishing mankind to look towards its saviour.

The incident in Genesis 22 takes place when Abraham has already had previous encounters with God and has experienced him being true to his promise by the birth of Isaac. Yahweh God had never asked for human sacrifice to him before. Even in the Sodom and Gomorrah incident, God revealed his will to Abraham as a friend. In this context, this test is put forth to Abraham and the passage helps to understand two purposes of God allowing suffering/tests in his children’s lives that help us deal with our sufferings better

  1. Through our suffering, we learn God’s love When God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, there was no record of God trying to punish him. But it is mentioned that he was testing him (Gen 22:1). God allows Abraham to go through a difficult situation. James 1:2-4 and I Peter 1:7 talks about faith being tested. Similar tests happened in Joseph’s life; he was not punished for his sin, and the word of God tested him. (Psalms 105:19)  Martha and Mary faced similar tests when Lazarus died. (John 11). The question of why God assigns this specific test is that this serves as a foreshadowing of how he intends to give himself up on the cross. The Bible has many symbols and allegories that explain God’s love. Prophet Hosea was asked to marry a prostitute to exemplify God’s love for Israel. Through this test, Abraham, the friend of God was provided with an opportunity to experience how God intends to orchestrate his redemption plan by sacrificing his only son. The love of God was exemplified through the sacrifice of Isaac. Through suffering, God provides an opportunity to learn God’s love.

  2. God partakes in our suffering It was not only Abraham who experienced God’s heart. Through the redemption, Christ took part in our suffering. Hebrews 2: 16 – 18 explains this clearly.  We see another example when “Jesus Wept” (John 11:35) during Lazarus death. God called Abraham his friend and he identified himself with the suffering of mankind. Through suffering, God restores his relationship with man (Eg: The Cross). The symptom of sin (Suffering) becomes a pathway to restore the relationship between man and God.


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