Suffering happens. Every one of us who live beyond the first week of life will experience suffering. It is as inevitable as death and God’s presence.
Yet we spend most of our lives and energies fleeing from it. We work most of our day to make money so that we can live comfortable lives, so that our families can live comfortable lives, and so that we can avoid the suffering of poverty. For those who work not for money but for purpose and meaning, we are seeking to avoid meaninglessness. We have nice houses to protect us, nice cars to help us feel good about ourselves, and even attend churches that don’t talk about suffering except to alleviate it. We run from pain, see sickness and death as enemies to be conquered, and do everything we can make our lives free of suffering.
And so we sit in church and wonder why it is so hard to have faith. Why doesn’t this sink in? Why do I doubt? Why doesn’t it matter more in my life like its supposed to? How can church be a sideline of my life, something I do but not really something I am?
The bible was written to and for a suffering people. The gospel is a message of hope for the downtrodden and wounded. Slaves, the oppressed, the poor, the diseased, the dying… it was to the suffering that the bible was originally written and the message of it is one of hope for the future.
We can’t put God truly first in our lives because we don’t need Him. We have managed to alleviate most of our suffering on our own through our privilege and so a message of a better life to come doesn’t mean much. Salvation is the act of being saved, but for we who do not know suffering, what is there for us to be saved from?
Only those who know suffering can truly understand the gospel. This is why the hardest group to share Jesus with is not atheists or Muslims or the young or the old, but the wealthy and “righteous”. It is they who do not know true suffering and so it is they (we) who have the hardest time with salvation.