Jesus and Suffering

Jesus and suffering is a simple subject.

Whether Jesus encountered spiritual, physical, emotional, or common everyday suffering, Jesus cared. He dealt with it as something real, transforming the person as well as the problem in the process.

Here’s one of many examples from the Bible:

Spiritual Suffering

(From Mark 5:1-20) There was a man among the Gadarenes so filled with demons, the townspeople had to chain him. Hand and foot, they would bind him. But he would break his bonds and become a danger and a nuisance once again.

Finally, no one could bind him, even with chains. He ran wild in the tombs and hills, crying out and cutting himself with the sharp edges of rocks. No one would go near him. Until one day, Jesus came...

Right away, the demons inhabiting the man recognized him and shouted out, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me.”

But Jesus ordered the demons (for there were many) to come out of the man. From that moment on, the man was different. He cleaned and dressed himself and sat there calmly. And he wanted nothing more than to stay with Jesus...to go with him wherever he went.

God had a different task for the man, though. Jesus, “Son of the Most High God,” sent him back to his village to “tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” The man obeyed him, and the people were amazed.

What We Learn About Jesus and Suffering from This

Jesus didn’t leave the man as he found him. He cared about his well being. He had all authority from God to trample demons beneath his feet—authority he’s shared with Christian believers.

Jesus didn’t tell the man to look within or try to convince the man that the demons didn’t exist. Had the man looked within, he would have found a legion of demons there having a house party and making a huge mess in the process. Handling things on his own had done the man absolutely no good, up to that point.

And to say that neither they nor anything else exists is a pointless proposition. To insist in the nonexistence of the demons wouldn’t have changed the man’s situation. As far as we know, no one had even realized the man was demon possessed.

And to insist that his suffering was maya—illusion—and didn’t exist is equally pointless. If the demons are maya, and our suffering is maya, and we, for that matter, are maya—then so are all the things we’re supposed to do to attain nirvana, and it wouldn’t then matter whether we attained it anyway because...according to Buddha...we don’t actually exist anyway. And how can something that doesn’t actually exist attain anything, including nirvana?


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