The cross of Christ and the call to take up our cross is the call to participate in God’s love through forgiveness and suffering.
— Brian Zahnd
The lives of those fully engaged in the human struggle will be riddled with bullet holes. Whatever happened in the life of Jesus is in some way going to happen to us. Wounds are necessary. The soul has to be wounded as well as the body. To think that the natural and proper state is to be without wounds is an illusion. Those who wear bulletproof vests protecting themselves from failure, shipwreck and heartbreak will never know what love is. The unwounded life bears no resemblance to the Rabbi.
— Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
Yesterday I posted a video and some accompanying thoughts on suffering. I followed up this morning with a quote from Richard Rohr on how God shares in our suffering.
My friend Mark left the following comment in response to this morning’s post:
I suspect the acceptance of this by most people is dependant on revelation, as knowledge here is not enough. Jesus was crucified, I get that. But he wasn’t raped, his daughter wasn’t killed in a car accident, he wasn’t trafficked, he wasn’t separated from his mother and gassed in a black chamber packed with his mates, he wasn’t force fed drugs as a baby, he didn’t lose his house in a tsunami, he wasn’t made redundant, he didn’t grow old and get abused for years in a bad nursing home, he didn’t grow old… Does he really share in our suffering?
I’m thankful for Mark’s comment, for it gives voice to a very real question with which we all must grapple. I started to compose a reply, but then it began to get longer, so I thought I may as well make it into a follow-up post. I’d like to emphasise that this post is not intended as some kind of theological refutation of Mark’s comment, mainly because there’s no argument to be refuted. Mark has raised a question that is both valid and necessary, and I simply share some thoughts in response.
The enfleshment and suffering of Jesus is saying that God is not apart from the trials of humanity. God is not aloof. God is not a mere spectator. God is not merely tolerating or even healing all human suffering. Rather, God is participating with us—in all of it—the good and the bad! I wonder if people can avoid becoming sad and cynical about the tragedies of history if they do not know this.
— Richard Rohr, adapted from Job and the Mystery of Suffering
In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, which has created such devastation and tragic loss of life in the Philippines, many are undoubtedly asking the question, “How can a good and loving God permit such things to happen?” US pastor-theologian Greg Boyd shares some thoughts in response:
I generally find myself in agreement with much of what Greg has to say.
The Risen Christ is the standing icon of humanity in its final and full destiny. He is the pledge and guarantee of what God will do with all of our crucifixions. At last, we can meaningfully live with hope. It is no longer an absurd or tragic universe. Our hurts now become the home for our greatest hopes.
— Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond
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