The age old question is this: If God is all loving and all powerful, why would there ever be suffering?
To understand God’s work in the face of human suffering, we have to totally rethink what we mean when we say God’s power.
We like the plain old garden variety of power…power that means since I’m stronger than you I can whup you.
Power that says I’m smart enough and strong enough to solve any problem that comes my way. And if I can’t I’ll just stoically accept it and move on.
God’s power is different. God’s power brings us beyond simple endurance. But God’s power doesn’t really look like power.
God’s problem is not that there are certain things God can’t do. God presumably has the power to prevent all suffering. But as we’ve said before, the cost for that is too high. The cost is the loss of freedom for us…and the rest of creation.
God’s problem is not lack of power…it’s that God loves us too much to use that power over us. Because of love, God opted out of the all-powerful role. Instead God allowed us…and all of creation…the freedom to become…the freedom to become what God created us to be.
But that was a huge risk for God. It means creation doesn’t really have a script. We and the non-human creation are given freedom to ad lib.
Instead of God using power over evil and suffering, God dives straight in to the heart of it, to transform it…and us…from the inside.
Ultimately, God’s solution is incarnation…Emanuel…God with us. From the beginning of the Old Testament to the cross and resurrection to the post-resurrection church the message is that God is with us. God suffers with us.
God takes our pain…our questions…our doubts…even our anger…God takes them into God’s own being, on the cross…and then turns them back to us in healing and new life.
You can find the full sermon text under the sermon tab of this website. Comments and questions - for this week or the whole series - are welcome.