Finding God in the Suffering

Where is God in the suffering? A blogpost by Nkosivumile Gola

Life is a constant response to the plight of the suffering God and the suffering God is constantly responding to the plight of the suffering humanity. If this was the view we had concerning life then the view we have of the cross would be radically transformed, because then the cross does not just become a historical ‘salvific’ event, but the very present suffering and saving act of the God-forsaken God in the midst of the least of these which requires an urgent response.

It has to be made clear that if God is not the victim of suffering in the world today then God is the cause of suffering in the world today and if God is the cause of suffering in the world today then God is unable to save and to end human suffering. If we see God as the victim of suffering in the world today, then God can and will save and rescue the suffering. This is in line with Bonhoeffer’s statement when he argues that, “only the suffering God can help us”. 

There is no father who can be nonchalant in the face of pain and suffering of their offspring, the pain that affects the offspring of the father cuts deeper into the heart of the father – a true father is personally affected by the suffering of his children.

Why then has God been given a spectator role in the face of the suffering of His own children? Why then has God been sidelined in the matters that affects His own? Why has God been made worse than broken and evil human beings in compassion with His own children? It has to be made known there is nothing of God that happens to God without God, and everything that happens to humanity is directly happening to God.

If God created social beings then God has to be affected by and respond to social ills as all these are suffered by Him. That is the reason why Song (An Asian Amerikan Theologian) argues that “the history of God is the history of Jesus and the history of Jesus is the history of humanity”. Therefore the very pain as experienced by the image and the likeness of God in history is the very pain that has directly affected God in history. God is in the midst of the least of these suffering the worse forms of all oppression as suffered by the least of these.

We need to see the picture of a creator subjected (as the face of the least of these) by his own creation to perpetual oppression. We must view our lives as a response to a plight of the suffering God. How we then respond to this plight whether we ignore it or we intentionally act to end it is dependent on whether or not we see Jesus in the face of the least of these. Love must be understood as all the radical, intentional actions as extended in responding to end human pain which in actuality is the end to God pain. We locate God pain in the world today by looking at the pain and suffering as experienced by the least of these. 

Nkosivumile Gola
Nkosivumile, theologian and activist, works for The Warehouse, is founder of the Food is Free campaign, and longs to see the Church responding to the suffering of God’s children in more tangible, liberating ways. 

connect with us