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God’s Presence on Good Friday
Can I see the God who suffers?
The world we live in is filled with so much hate and horror that sometimes I not only want to abandon it, but I want to abandon its maker. I find it very hard to trust, let alone believe, in a God who will not stop child abuse or the holocaust.
But can I see the God who suffers, the God who bleeds, the God who dies?
Can I really see it? Or have all of the Sunday School stories and all the tidy theories about how Good Friday “works” veiled this one great truth from my eyes?
It’s easy, I think, with so much Christian history behind us, with so many books and commentaries written and read, to only see the beauty of Christ crucified.
Yet, if I were to be there on that afternoon, with the sun bearing down on my shoulders, could I have watched?
If I would have been there on that day, the world I so hoped was coming true, would have been smashed.
If I would have been there on that day, I would have seen a man in pieces, weeping, gasping for breath.
If I’d only substitute Jesus’ body for my wife’s or worse — my child’s, I’d see the horror. I’d feel the tearing grief.
It was not glorious, it was gruesome.
It was not beautiful, it was barbarous.
It was not heaven, it was hell.
Let me see him this way, let me feel his mother’s misery, let me feel his friends terror — when I see its horror, then, and only then, do I perceive its significance.
God has chosen not to eliminate suffering, but to suffer with us.
His submission to suffering, his letting go, his divine brokenness was his way of telling us who he is, who he’s always been, and who he always will be — God with us.
Hear him whimper it from the stable, or shout it from the synagogue, or cry it from the cross:
“I am not just for you, somewhere beyond the great blue veil — I’m with you. Here and now. I’m present where you always thought me absent. In the pain, in the sorrow, in the agony, in the rain.”
God does not give an explanation for all the suffering in our world, but he does give himself. He does not stand at a distance; he suffers with us.
Seeing this truth does not heal my pain, but it does kindle enough confidence to keep me going.
“Don’t talk to me about suffering, unless you lived it.” I often think.
God, “I’m listening.”
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