Down to Earth

The Fellowship  |  July 31, 2019

A rainbow over a body of water.
Photo Friday: Rain on the Earth

Look! The LORD is coming from his dwelling place;
    he comes down and treads on the heights of the earth. — Micah 1:3

Suffering, in all its various forms, is a universal human experience. While there often isn’t an answer to the question why suffering exists, there are many answers to how we can respond to the suffering of others. Our devotions explore how God comforts us, and how we can comfort others in times of suffering. Learn more through our complimentary Bible teaching on suffering.

Did your parent ever say this to you: “If I have to come down there, you’re really going to be in trouble!” Well, that’s exactly what the prophet Micah told the people of Israel:  “The Lord is coming from his dwelling place.” In other words, Israel—the LORD is coming down here; you guys are really in trouble!

But really, can’t the Lord punish Israel from anywhere? He is, after all, God. Why must he “come down?”

The Jewish sages tell us that when Israel was sent into exile, God went into exile, too. Whenever His children are in pain, God is with them in their pain. God isn’t coming down to earth so that He can punish Israel. He is coming down to earth because He has to punish them. He knows that they will be in pain, and so He comes to be by their side.

God is like a loving father who needs to discipline his children so that they will grow into better human beings. His kid may scream, cry, and even say that he hates his parent. But the father never stops loving his son. He is always there for him.

The darkest month on the Jewish calendar, which begins tomorrow at sundown, marks the destruction of both Temples, the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the start of the Crusades, and many other horrific tragedies that affected the Jewish people over thousands of years. Appropriately, the name of the month is Av —the Hebrew word for father. It is a beautiful reminder that in our most difficult times, God is most importantly, our parent.

Remember the poem Footsteps? In it, a man notices a beach representing his life. He notices two pairs of footsteps which he understands to be his and God’s. But then he sees that during the most difficult times in his life, there is only one set of footprints. He wonders why he was alone when he needed God the most. Then God explains to him, “You were never alone. In the hard times, I carried you.”

Remember friends, you are never, ever alone. In fact, when you feel the most distant from God, He is probably the closest. Our pain is His pain. After all, He is our father, and we are His beloved children.

To learn more, download our complimentary study from Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein on Suffering: God’s Refining Fire.