July 1, 2019 - The Question of Pain

“In the final analysis,” wrote Frederick Nietzsche, “one experiences only one’s self.”

He’s got a point, a good one, actually. When we grieve with the grieving, weep with the weeping, and suffer with the suffering—we experience only our own grief, only our own cries, and only own anguish, never anyone else’s. We bleed our own blood, spew our own spit, secrete our own sweat -- and feel only our own pain, which is always and only limited to how much each one of us, based on the number of cells in our own bodies, can ever feel.

Sure, the numbers freak us out: six million dead in the Holocaust; 20 million in the Chinese famine; 30,000 in the tsunami. Yet not one of those people ever suffered more than a single individual could ever suffer. In all of human history, from Adam to the last man, no one will ever suffer more than what a single individual will ever suffer. There’s no “sum total of human suffering” because our suffering is never totaled.

In contrast, Isaiah 53, talking about Jesus on the cross, said that “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,” (Isaiah 53:4, NIV). Whose infirmities, whose sorrows? Those of the entire world’s. All human pain, all sorrow, all sickness—they all came as the result of sin, and at the cross the full weight of that sin, the world’s sin, our “infirmities” and our “sorrows,” fell on Jesus Himself..

In short, though we all suffer because of sin, no one suffered more for it than did Jesus, at the cross, whose suffering there offer us the promise of a new existence where suffering will, once and for all, be never again known.