Someone approached me in church recently with a concern. It appeared to this person that I was carrying some kind of burden. I was told, “You seem happy and pleasant when you are at the pulpit in front of us, but I have noticed you seem to be carrying a burden when you are sitting alone.” It is true. A pastor does carry many burdens as we care for people. People hurt, and those who love them hurt too.
We all struggle with pain and suffering at different points in our lives. Sin entered the world and the consequences were horrendous. Disease, death, lies, broken relationships, and depression are only some of the symptoms of a sinful world. None of these was present prior to the sin of Adam and Eve. However, not every negative experience is the direct result of the sin of a specific individual. Jesus once walked past a man who had been blind from birth and the religious leaders asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus replied, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (see John 9)
The issue of pain and suffering is difficult. I hear people ask how a loving God could allow people to suffer. Others say, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The truth is no one is good. There are no good people in the world. All of us are born into sin with hearts desperately wicked and in need of rebirth in Jesus Christ. Had we never sinned, pain and suffering would have never become part of our world. But even so, God never stops being God. God continues to minister to His people in the midst of their storms. Sometimes He provides the miracle of healing, and other times He provides the miracle of peace and endurance to get through one more day. In all things, we seek to increase our confidence in Him and in His love. We take heart as we are fully convinced God will be glorified in our times of suffering as well as our times of rich provision. And we care for those who hurt.
I admit to carrying burdens. I carry burdens for suffering people I love. I carry hurt for those whose brokenness I do not understand, and I carry burdens for people who continue to make poor life choices. I also carry burdens for everyone who does not yet know Jesus. Jesus truly is our only hope. He is the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). If I carry a burden or two while serving Him, I believe I am in good company.
1 Peter 4:19 – “Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”