The Christian religion finds expression in the love of those who love Christ, more comprehensible and accessible than in metaphysical or ethical statement. It is an experience rather than a conclusion; a way of life rather than an ideology grasped through the mind, belonging to the realm of Spiritual rather than intellectual perception. It reads quite beyond the dimension of words and ideas.
Suffering crystallizes, as nothing else does, the dilemmas and nightmares of life without God. It Is an inflamed nerve which, when touched gives rise to howls of rage and anguish, especially today.
Surely when we can go to the moon and ride through space faster than light, when our very genes are counted and our organs replaceable ; when we can arrange to eat without growing fat, to copulate without procreating, to flash a gleaming smile without being happy- surely suffering should be banished from our lives.
That we should have to go on suffering and watch others suffering is an outrage; a deity who having power to stop it, still allowed it to continue, would be a monster – not a loving God.
A friend once asked me, ‘if there is a loving God, why does he allow my father to die of cancer just when I needed him most?’ She added, ‘I prayed to allow me to have few more years with him, in agony I presented my request as my father was the only hope I had; no family and no friend; had lost my mother during her labour of childbirth with me. I never lay my eyes on her?’
Far from being a justifiable reason, an outrage, these things exemplify and enhance our human conditions. If ever it were to be possible – as some arrogant contemporary minds are crazy enough to believe – to eliminate suffering and ultimately death from our mortal lives, they would not hereby be enhanced but rather demeaned to the point that they would become too insignificant and too banal to be worth living at all.
Rather, as though, out of humanitarian pity for poor old king Lear, at the end of Acts 1, he were to be given a sedative strong enough to let him sleep through the other four Acts. Thereby he would be spared, true, but there would be no play.
So for us too, if the dreams were over realised- the sick and the old and the mad all who were infirm and less than physically complete and smooth-working painlessly eliminated, leaving only the beauty queens and the athletes, the Mensa IQS and the prize winners to be our human family- if this ever came to pass, God would really be dead.
The only way God ever could die would be if we retreated so far into our egos and our flesh, put between us and Him so wide a chasm that our separation became inexorable. Then and only then, God would be dead and the curtain would fall for ever on us and our tiny earth.
We all have a dark shade of gray times in our lives, where we often silently question if there is ever a loving God?
Let’s remind ourselves of how all of us are at one, if not in our hopes and desires, then in the scars and bruises we bear, or have watched with anguish being inflicted on some beloved mind, bringing down darkness upon it.
We can still gather together round the cross- even though we used to shut our ears to the words of the man who died on it- but be still and open our ears and listen to his words that will comfort us in these times and open our eyes to the beauty that the gray times have planned.
What we often fail to realise is this:
As we know that although a harrowing correspondence, though with many beautiful and uplifting accounts of suffering over come and affliction turned to good purposes as sometimes dark clouds which gather turn to glory when the sun sets.
No one has been spared – certainly not – I dare say to the afflicted that they are blessed in their affliction, or offer comfort in universal terms for particular grieves.
Ye t one can dimly and humbly say that suffering is an integral and essential part of our human drama. That it falls upon one and all in differing degrees and forms, whose comparison lies beyond our competence; that it belongs to God’s purpose for us here on earth; that, in the end all the experience of living has to teach us is to say: thy will be done. To say it, standing before a cross itself signifies the suffering of God in the person of a man, and the redemption of a man in the person of God. The greatest sorrow and the greatest joy co-exist on Golgotha and the greatest loving God!