The Presence and Purpose of Suffering
On Saturday August 25th I had just finished up a few thoughts for Sunday morning and decided to go on a short ride on my motorcycle up to Liebenzell Mission on Schooley’s Mountain, NJ (https://lmusa.org/ ) and spend time with God in prayer. It was a beautiful night with a full moon breaking through the clouds, lighting up the sky, the trees and fields around me. I was having an awesome time with the Lord. So eventually I put my helmet on and began my journey home. As I was coming down route 24 headed toward Chester NJ there were two cars stopped in my lane. I came to a stop and before I knew it I heard these tires screeching behind me and I knew they were coming for me. There was nothing I could do. I was helpless. I felt the weight of the truck bearing down on me. Two distinct areas of my body were being hit, first my shoulder and then my lower back. I blacked out and fell straight to the ground with my motorcycle. When I woke up I felt as though my foot had been torn off. Suddenly I heard people shouting to oncoming cars to stop, my first thought was get off the road and so somehow I made my way to the edge of the road and fell to the ground. As people approached all I could say was call 911, please call 911. I was shaking uncontrollably from the shock of the accident. I wasn’t sure if I was going to pass out… I thought the kids!!! How will I let them know? Then I thought I’ll call Cher (my wife). So I dialed my beautiful, gifted, hardworking, God honoring wife! And I said Cher, “I’ve been hit by a car, I’m on the side of the road, the ambulance is coming…. I love you baby! I’ll call you as soon as I can.” I still had no idea of the extent of my injuries, I was still in shock.
While there on the side of the road the Lord placed Rudy a doctor from Boston at my side. She held my hand and lifted my neck and assured me that everything was going to be OK. I asked her if my foot was still there she said, “Yeah your foot is there, in fact your motorcycle looks a lot worse than you.”
The ambulance came and scraped me up and brought me to Morristown Memorial Hospital. Soon my family was there, my mom and my brother. Then my son Sam… He gave me his shirt because I didn’t have one… my friends Peter and Ted were there as well… We drove home and the kids took such good care of me. My son Noah spent the night with me. My son Zach got me what ever I asked for and my daughter Meagan and her fiancé Arthur did their best to comfort me and take up a few of my responsibilities. The church community and friends around the country began praying, lifting me up and sending encouraging notes. I had some of the best discussions with people on my couch over the past week, some in person and some on the phone. I am so thankful for God’s comfort in my trials and for my family and the body of Christ! A special thanks to Doug and Pris Wellborn, who came to our side as a family and to our church family!
My friends, we are not alone and that will always change the equation for you and me. No matter the outcome. What happened to me on Saturday August 25th and what has transpired in my family over the years fits very well into upcoming discussions on the presence of suffering in the life of the believer.
Have you ever wondered?
- Why do bad things happen to good or innocent people?
- Why does suffering and pain exist in our world?
As we continue the I Believe Series and focus on the Crucifixion, we are going to unpack this I Believe statement:
“I believe that Jesus Christ Suffered under Pontius Pilate” …
This statement Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate takes us to the last few moments before Jesus’ Crucifixion, where He suffered at the hands of the very ones He came to rescue. In the book of Matthew, chapters 26- 27, we pick up the Biblical narrative where we see that the stage has been set. The Jewish religious leaders and their devote followers began to put their plan to execute Jesus into full swing.
“Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.” (Matthew 26:3-4)
As their wicked plan unfolded, Judas betrayed Jesus and turned Him over to those who sought to kill Him. And there, in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus shed tears of blood and reconfirmed His commitment to the Fathers will, they took him by force before the Sanhedrin (the supreme court of ancient Israel). As the sun rose upon the next day the leaders of the Jewish community and the people turned Him over to Pilate to be executed. After a thorough investigation Pilate found no wrong in Jesus and sought to set him free but the crowd cried out crucify Him! Crucify Him!
“So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.” (Matthew 27:24-25)
Jesus suffering was heinous; it was shockingly evil. Pilate ordered Him to be scourged. He was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. He was beaten with a flagrum, which is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather cords with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip was brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs. First cutting through the skin and then deeper into the tissue, leaving the skin of the back hanging in long ribbons and the entire area an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. (Dr. C. Truman Davis)
Jesus suffering under Pontius Pilate was heinous, scandalous and wicked. Jesus was absolutely innocent. He had literally done nothing wrong. In fact, He was on a rescue mission to seek and save that which was lost.
Jesus suffered and any person that has the breath of life in them on this earth has also suffered in some form or fashion. Suffering is a part of our existence whether we are a believer or non-believer we will experience various forms of pain physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. No one is exempt. God never promised that we would not suffer, in fact He clearly communicated through His life and His Word that hard times will come, that there will be storms in this life that will bring us to the end of ourselves. And He clearly has taught us through His Word and His life that He enters into our pain and sorrow. Though we will not leave this place unscathed our suffering is not in vain. Our suffering is full of divine purpose. God is working in and through your personal pain and sorrow. He is carrying out His will through the suffering.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
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