Throughout history, human beings have struggled with the problem of pain and suffering but have not come up with many suitable explanations. Thus, we often encourage a sick friend to accept an illness because “It is God’s will”, almost as if we are saying God not only wants us to suffer but also takes some kind of pleasure in seeing us in pain.
Today’s Gospel reading gives us reasons to question this way of thinking.
The author of the Gospel according to John provides us with a glimpse of the human side of Jesus when Lazarus, one of Jesus’ close friends, dies.
John tells us Jesus was troubled and wept openly upon hearing about Lazarus’ death. Since this is hardly the reaction we would expect from a deity who enjoys seeing people suffer, we can conclude from this story that Jesus is a God who does not like to see His friends in pain.
So, let’s stop blaming Him for all the evil in the world and let’s stop telling people who are suffering to accept their pain because “it is God’s will”.
It is not God’s will that we suffer and die.
Where, then, does suffering and pain come from? Scripture tells us that pain, the drudgery of work, and death are consequences of sin and did not become part of life until man and woman disobeyed God (see Genesis 3). Since the devil introduced sin into the world, it is the devil, not God, who is responsible for all the pain and suffering we experience.
Finally, in today’s reading, Jesus says He is both the resurrection and the life. This is just one of the seven famous “I am …….” statements we find in John’s Gospel.
The other six are:
“I am the vine and you are the branches” (15:5)
“I am the bread of life” (6:35)
“I am the good shepherd” (10:11,14);
“I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6);
“I am the sheep gate” (10:7); and
“I am the light of the world” (9:5).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I praise You for restoring what was dead in me and for raising me up to new life. Yes, Lord Jesus, I do believe in You. I want to rise with You. Let me know Your presence today. Amen.
(source: A Christian Pilgrim)
Deacon Isaac Falzon