Find Meaning in Our Suffering
Yael Eckstein | June 25, 2023
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish? —Psalm 22:1
We start out every week with an inspirational lesson from the beloved Psalms. For centuries, these ancient poems of King David and others have been the foundation for Jewish and Christian worship. Enjoy!
Of all the challenges to faith, none may be more powerful than the question of suffering. I have heard so many stories over the years of people who lost faith in God as a result of a situation of unexplainable and seemingly unjustified suffering. Many Jews who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust had this same reaction, giving up their faith because they could not understand how God could allow such evil.
According to Jewish tradition, Moses, in speaking to God face to face (see Exodus 33:11), asked God why the righteous suffer in this world. According to the tradition, God answered that this was the one question that Moses could not know the answer to.
If Moses, the greatest of all prophets, couldn’t comprehend the question of suffering, far be it from me to try to explain it! But even as we can’t understand why suffering happens, we can still find meaning in our suffering by how we and others respond.
Finding Meaning in Our Suffering
In the opening verse of Psalm 22, we find King David wondering aloud about this very question: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?”
Rather than lose faith, David goes on to contemplate the generations that came before him who suffered and were saved. He reaffirms his trust in God, even as his enemies mock him. Then, toward the end of the Psalm, David foresees a time when the nations of the world will see how God has saved His people and will praise and worship Him for it.
We read, “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations” (vv. 27-28).
While David didn’t get an answer to why he and his people suffer, he found meaning and purpose in the redemption from that suffering. And perhaps this is part of the answer to suffering. Without suffering, there would be no redemption.
Today we live in a time when the nation of Israel has been redeemed after unprecedented suffering. As David predicted, many among the nations have seen the hand of God upon us and praised Him for what He has done. Praise God for His redemption of Israel’s suffering!