Love is difficult. Both in the emotional and spiritual realm, love has many difficulties. It is an issue we must address in our debate on pain and suffering.
At the core of this issue is a God of love who allows pain and suffering and at times seems to be on an extended silent mode.

Though God is powerful, He cannot control our love. No pyrotechnic displays of omnipotence could make the children of Israel follow God even though they were in a hot miserable desert. The fact that love does not operate according to the rules of power may help us understand why God sometimes seems shy to use his power.

Would you really serve God any better if all your prayers were answered? Would your life on this planet be really idyllic if you had no problems, no pain and no suffering? I would advance that in the context of our sinful planet we need pain and suffering to keep us motivated.

God can do anything he wants, yet like all good parents love complicates his life as it complicates ours. How does a loving God who lives in the eternal present respond to creatures who can barely see further than their moment? God sees the proverbial human who wants to get to the other side of the street at any cost. Yet that human can’t really see the cosmic onslaught of traffic heading his way. The God who loves must keep that human back in the sun and the rain so he can avoid a death he cannot see.

In that process we learn to trust, we learn to wait. While we wait, what God could not win with his power, he wins through suffering. He didn’t treat his own son any different. The power of love in our human context seems to reside in suffering. Jesus can tell us a lot about it. This is a very difficult concept to accept; spiritually, emotionally and physically.

The Spanish mystic Unamuno, conversing with a peasant, suggested that perhaps there was a God but no heaven. The peasant thought a minute and then replied, “So what is this God for?”

You and I know there is a heaven. Yet the God of the eternal present restraining his power for our own good resides in our every moments to cover us with his protective love in the midst of our pain and suffering.

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Ps 91:4

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