By Sarah Njeri
There is an interesting reading in the book of Jeremiah. The Babylonian army had surrounded Jerusalem. It was futile for Israelites to resist and fight back. Prophet Jeremiah had already warned the Israelite leaders that the city of Jerusalem would fall, and he was languishing in prison for prophesying the truth. Just as invasion was imminent, the Lord informed Jeremiah that one of his cousins was on the way to ask him to buy a piece of family property.
“Hanamel son of Shallum your uncle is going to come to you and say, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth, because as the nearest relative it is your right and duty to buy it.” Jeremiah 32:7
God commanded Jeremiah to honour his cousin’s request. Although puzzled, Jeremiah trusted God and bought the property.
“…I knew that this was the word of the Lord; I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel and weighed out for him seventeen shekels of silver. I signed and sealed the deed, had it witnessed, and weighed out the silver on the scales.” Jeremiah 32:8-10.
What a time to pay good silver for land that would soon be in the hands of their enemy! All logic argued against this purchase. But then, all known facts are not always all the facts. The Lord assured Jeremiah that despite the bleak outlook, the people would again own houses and fields and vineyards in the land.
We often go through trying times. Some believers endure persecution. Others attempt to rebuild their lives after natural disasters. Many live with disabilities and suffering with little hope of recovery. The known facts are against them.
However, God, who came in the person of Jesus Christ, is always on our side and the known facts are no longer against us. We have a hope that does not disappoint. The unknown facts are not all the facts. The Lord above has kept you safe, throughout the night; why then, should you wake up apprehensive of the things beyond your power?
Why is there suffering? You might ask when you hear of hurricanes, mudslides, earthquakes, and other disasters killing people. Job asked that question too. Why is there so much pain in the world? Consider these reasons:
Firstly, we can’t escape the laws that govern our universe. We need such things as gravity, weather, and fire to survive but they can lead to tragedy. Fire is good in your stove, but an out-of-control fire is destructive. Secondly, we are a social race. Our lives are intertwined, so we sometimes suffer when the sin or foolishness of others spreads trouble. Thirdly, sin brought a curse on the earth and its people.
This curse includes pain and death as explained in Genesis 3:15-19. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel… I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing, with pain you will give birth to children…Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
And finally, suffering awakens compassion. Jesus told us to care for those who suffer in poverty. We are His partners in helping others: “But a Samaritan, as he travelled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him.” Luke 10:33-35.
As Job discovered, God’s world is a fallen place. When we have suffering, we can use it as an opportunity to serve God by helping others, to trust Him in spite of the difficulty, and to grow in our faith in Him. Our response to suffering can either make or break us.
When trouble hits, let our first reaction be to trust the Lord and care for the needs of others. When you are tempted to despair, thinking of the sin and sadness, look to God and pray this prayer: Thank you Lord, for joy and gladness.
Published in April 2015