Suffering is inescapable. Some people battle sickness – relentless pain, clinical depression, spinal cord injuries and paralysis, cancer. Others wrestle with the mental anguish caused by childhood abuse, death, family turmoil, or divorce. In developing countries human suffering often means hunger, lack of medical care, and the endless nightmare of civil war or oppressive dictatorship. All this pain makes the heart of a compassionate person ache.
If that person happens to be a Christian, he may wonder why God doesn’t do something. In his book Teaching Your Children about God, David Wolpe writes of “a man who once stood before God, his heart breaking from the pain and injustice in the world. ‘Dear God,’ he cried out, ‘look at all the suffering, the anguish and distress in your world. Why don’t you send help?’ God responded, ‘I did send help. I sent you.’”
In the home of Cornelius, Peter declared that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; […] he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38). Jesus freed demoniacs, cleansed lepers, restored missing limbs, and gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the mute, strength to the paralyzed, life to the dead. Through Christ God was “doing something” about suffering. We, of course, lack the Lord’s amazing powers, and yet we are “the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Cor. 12:27). We are carrying on the Lord’s work. Therefore, every time we visit the nursing home or hospital, prepare a meal for a shut-in, attend a funeral, babysit a sick friend’s child, send a comforting card, or give money to a needy neighbor, God is “sending help” to people in distress or anguish.