Suffering, Consolation, Christian life, Caring
"In both the Old and New Testaments, there are numerous references to God as a Comforter of His people (Ps. 119:50; Isa. 40:1; 51:3; 61:1; Matt. 5:4; 2 Cor. 1:4). In this world of sin, suffering, and sorrow, there is a great need for each of us, at varying times and in varying circumstances in our lives, to experience the comfort of God personally. When humans do not grieve real losses and experience comfort, they stay emotionally stuck and have difficulty moving into the joy and freedom that is our heritage as Christian believers. Biblically speaking, it is not difficult to build the case for the human need for God’s comfort. But could it also be true that God is blessed by our human desire to minister to His pain?
Does God suffer? I would suggest an affirmative response for the following reasons. First, we were created in God’s image, which implies that He not only has thoughts (Isa. 55:8; Jer. 29:11) but also has emotions. Second, when God expresses His emotions in the Scriptures, they are strong (Hos. 11:8, 9). Third, the Scriptures teach that we, as human beings, have the capacity to hurt God (Ps. 78:40, 41). Fourth, God is a God of compassion. John Peckham states, “The biblical language of compassion explicitly depicts ‘suffering along with,’ akin to sympathy/ empathy, that is, responsive feeling of emotion along with and for the object of compassion (compare Is 49:15; Jer 31:20).”
Discipleship and Religious Education
Sedlacek, David, "Comforting God" (2017). Faculty Publications. 769.