Over these past few weeks, our family has been travelling down some pretty dark paths and, if I am brutally honest, I have found life to be a bit of a struggle. My biggest frustration as a parent and grandparent is that I would do anything to protect my children and, in our current situation, I feel so powerless to help.
As a minister, I suppose I wear a kind of “mask”. I have a “public persona”, the me I am expected to be and the me I want others to see. The real me only emerges when I am in private and I am faced with the doubts and fears that lie deep within.
Of course, questions of faith emerge at times like this. I can appreciate the Psalmists Lament;
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
Of course, there are many well-meaning Christians who will trot out well-worn Bible verses and seek to assure that “God will use this for good”. Whilst, ultimately, I believe God will, this kind of comment produces in me an anger that just wants to punch their lights out – in love of course!
So, why do I feel like this? When we focus on “the good that will come, sometime, eventually, in the future” we deny the pain of the present moment.
To see somebody in pain can be an uncomfortable experience and produces disquiet in the person seeing the pain. So, like Jobs comforters, we want the quick fix, the easy answer. We want to rationalise the unexplainable whilst denying one inescapable truth
The pain is real.
I read some words this morning, quoted by Richard Rhor, that really spoke to me at the present time;
Something in you dies when you bear the unbearable. And it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees and to love as God loves.
In many respects the message of the cross doesn’t make sense to me. A loving God allowing His sinless Son to bear the sins of the world. However, it begins to make more sense when we look at it through the eyes of pain. In Jesus, God does not deny the pain of humanity but stands alongside us in our hurt and our suffering. That, for me, is part of the message of the cross.
So, in this current struggle, there is hope. Not that “one day we will look on this and see all the good things” but, that we are not alone in our pain, God is there. God doesn’t deny the reality of what we face and He doesn’t walk away from us.