Thursday, June 12, 2008

God and Agony, part 2

I started to discuss the relationship between God and suffering yesterday, and I continue today. I wrote about the fact that we all suffer, and there is, I think, a reason for that, that we live this life for the purpose of learning at a level much deeper and more profound than merely training the mind. We are, if you will, souls in training, and we become the result of our decisions, especially when we choose to help. The suffering is completely real, but so too is the help, and when the pain and trauma have faded – and they do – the fact that someone helped address the suffering is significant. That’s not to say that I have suffering, pain, loss and death all figured out, but it seems to me that since Man’s actions brought all those things on himself, God took it upon Himself to find a way to make use of them fior good, to such a point that He suffered alongside us, as one of us. One of the most compelling images for me, is that Jesus died in between two thieves. For here it is not so much the question of whether the men deserved to die, but the fact that the Son of God willingly died as they did, for His love of us.

We don’t see much real humility these days, and when we do frankly we miss it for what it is. Modern society makes a big deal about getting ourselves full credit for what we achieve, and even if we fail, we still make sure we feel good about ourselves. Sadly, a side effect of that is that we obsess about ourselves and pay little attention to anyone else. That’s not new, though. Jesus was angry at the Pharisees for doing very much the same thing, and even then it was an old, common problem. Kings and princes do not think much about the common people, you see. And even when we have done with the titles, these days there are still plenty of “rich, young rulers” around. And I am not pointing fingers much here, because I include myself in that group. I say my prayers, try to live as I ought, and read the Bible regularly. For all of that, however, I sin every single day, even when I promise myself in the morning that ‘today will be different’. For some folks that makes me a hypocrite, and I won’t deny that either. But I do think that once a person has it in their heart that they want to be better, to help others and not be selfish, to give more than they take, it is a different kind of suffering to fail as we try to be better than we were. Not the same as physical suffering, mind you, but still, suffering all the same. This is important to the point, because some folks get the idea that the eternal Lord does not suffer, being all-powerful and such. I’d say that any parent who worries about their children knows that power does not mean there is no pain. I’d say that anyone who has read Scripture in context, comes to understand that God has spent all of time trying to deal with our pain, as I it were His own, which indeed I believe to be the case.

Enough for now, but something on which to think.

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