By Benjamin H. Liles
"And Jesus said to them, 'While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast" (Mark 2:19, New American Standard). Jesus gives this answer to those who asked him why his disciples never fasted like John's disciples did or even those who followed the Pharisees. Why is it while we have God do we not mourn? Rather, I think the question becomes, "Where is God when we suffer?"
Recently I listened to a pastor talking about if it's okay to question God about the suffering we go through. While he says of Job, considering Job is righteous as God made him to be so, that he questions God, God also comes back to Job; God gets a little sarcastic with Job, asking him, "Have you ever in your life commanded the morning or assigned the dawn its place? Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the extent of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this. Don't you know? You were already born; you have lived so long!" (Job 38:12, 17-18, 21, Holman Christian Standard).
Where does our suffering end and where does God's righteousness prevail over our circumstances? I ask this because while I think and believe it's okay to ask God why we suffer, i don't think it's okay to tell God how He ought to do things. That's why God got in Job's face, in His way, and questioned Job the way He did. But now think on this too: was Job still less righteous because God came and spoke face to face with him? I don't think so. God, in His way, wasn't really reprimanding Job by any means, but He was letting Job know that his suffering was the least of his problems.
So, as we come forward and Jesus is giving his explanation why his disciples don't fast, they have their leader among them. John was about to be beheaded by a member of Herod's family, so John's disciples had every right to mourn. But Jesus' ministry had just begun. Later on we read about Jesus and his suffering, "Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane...He said to them, 'My soul is extremely sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me" (Matthew 26:36-38, New King James).
Was Jesus Christ less than the Son of God, the Most High God? Was Jesus some how less righteous? Less divine? He was simply seeing if there was any other way for God's will to prevail without Him suffering at the hands of men. In the end Jesus did as He saw His Father doing: Jesus went to the cross on our behalf so we may have what Christ already had--life with the Father and His righteousness.
In my honest belief, we suffer because of the fact sin is within us from the day we are born. The quicker we realize our need for God, the need for a Savior, the more able we are to understand God far exceeds our pain. Paul said this, "For the light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles" (2 Corinthians 4:17, Berean Study). As long as we continue growing in the light of the knowledge of truth which we find in Christ Jesus, we can face each and every day, every trouble, every pain, the good and the bad days, knowing that everything is working out for and in us the glory and grace of God. What matters more is our joy, our faith, that God exceeds everything than our suffering and pain.
I always do my best to remain before God, seeking Him about what I ought to focus on and what to write on. I pray these words He's allowed me to convey show the grace and love God has for you. It's like He said, even to Jeremiah, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope'" (Jeremiah 29:11, New American Standard). God has plans for each and every one of us. His delight is for us to be a light to those hurting and lost. I pray this helps and encourages you today in your walk with the Lord. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.