God and Suffering

We use words to describe God.

Shocking statement, I know.

But this is true. We use words and phrases that describe who we think God is. Especially in
church there are a couple common images we use to describe God that tell us about who He is. To give you an example…

We call God “King” all the time. What does this tell us about God? That He is in charge and
powerful and watches over his people (us). Or take the image of God being “light”. When we
talk about God being light we are saying that he is pure, holy and good. He isn’t darkness
that we associate with bad or scary. Last one. Take the image of God being Father. This is
probably the most common and well-known image of God. God is our Father and one that
loves us and hears us. God is our father and cares for us.

But my thoughts go to the words and images of God that we don’t really hear in church.
Take Isaiah 42 for example…

“But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant.”

God a women in childbirth? A woman in labor? That seems strange and not something we
hear songs written about. What does this mean because like I said earlier, each word or
image used to describe God tells us some about who He is. So what does God being a
woman in labor tell us about himself?

As someone who has been in the room with a woman in labor, it is painful. It is not
something that women look forward to in the child birthing process. The hours and pain
that women go through to give birth is something that cannot be matched by most anything
else in this world. What is amazing about labor is that you have to work through the pain
to get the new life on the other side..

That statement I think tells us something about God in correlation to being described as a
woman in labor. In our lives we experience things that are painful and if you are like me, in
that moment I want God to take the pain away. I want God to fix it. I want him to be the
King of power that uses his influence to change what is going on around me. And although
that isn’t a bad thing to ask…when we view God as a woman in labor it changes our way we
see God.

Cause maybe God chooses an image to describe himself that doesn’t take away the pain, but
uses the painful season to bring about something new and awesome. Like a woman in
labor, it is useless to fight the pain of giving birth – you might need to experience it. The joy
of the pain though is that something incredible, a baby, will come from it.

Maybe God talks about himself as a woman in labor to let us know that He works inside the
pain to bring about something beautiful. Maybe God is working inside your pain, not taking
it away, but going to produce something beautiful on the other side if we fight with him
through it.

- Jonathan