Sunday, June 19, 2011

Suffering and the God of Mystery

When we suffer, I don't think the real issue of pointing to the cross is to say, "Hey, look.  You have Jesus.  It isn't really that bad."  I don't think the idea is to minimize our suffering.  Some people try to comfort us by minimizing our suffering simply because they don't know what else to do.  In some sense, though, I guess it is true that if you have Jesus you have everything, and everything pales in comparison to that.  Paul talks about how these "slight and momentary afflictions" are nothing compared to the glory awaiting us.  Very true.  But I think the cross has more to say.

I think a big point in looking to the cross is this:  in the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus we have God truly revealing His face through the darkness and mystery of heaven.  Everything else in this world is mysterious and hidden.  Why did you allow this, God?  Why aren't You doing anything, God?  Does God not care?  We don't really know.  We can speculate, and lots of people like to blather about what God might be doing or they try to encourage by telling us that there is some good purpose for it (and the Bible says that).  But at the end of the day, the question still haunts us..... "WHY?!"

God doesn't say, specifically, and we may never find out in this life.  It is as though all of that mystery in the world is left there on purpose by God so that we will be forced to stop trying to use our bag of tricks to peer into heaven and figure it all out.  I think all of that mystery in the world remains mystery so that we will give up on speculating and look to the One thing that God has revealed in true, tangible form.  God didn't open up a window in the sky.  God didn't give us secret answers to make sense of the chaos in our lives.  Instead, He came down.  He put on flesh and blood and walked among us.  He lived.  He was betrayed.  He died as a criminal, taking our curse for us.  He rose from the grave.

When perplexed by the pain of life, look at the cross.  Be able to say, "I don't know why this is happening.  I don't know what God is up to.  But I know what God did, and I now know who God is."  Jesus reveals God.  In our suffering, we want answers, but that is a dead end.  Let the futility of our search send us back to where God has revealed Himself.

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