How can this make sense?

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"How can this make sense?", by Robin Dugall

People throughout human history have used a plethora of words and
phrases in an attempt to summarize the depth of feeling, shock, dismay,
confusion, and agony that accompanies times of pain and suffering:

"The Dark Night of the Soul" – St. John of the Cross
"My God, my God why have you forsaken me" – David
"If at all possible, may this cup pass from me" – Jesus
"I have found the paradox, that is you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love" – Mother Teresa
"God
whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts
in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world" – CS Lewis
"You  may never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have" Corrie Ten Boom

"Tired of trying, sick of crying, Yeah I’m smiling, but inside I’m dying." – Anonymous


Everyone
suffers…there is pain through the world.  To ignore it, excuse it,
rationalize it, or pretend it doesn’t exist will only lead to
disillusionment, fear and confusion.  We have to engage it…we have to
engage the one thing that is universally human…pain.  But that’s not
the end of the story by any means…the incredible power and beauty of
being human is that we live in a world saturated with the presence of
God.  We are in the midst of a story that has spanned the ages where
God is at work in the midst of the human experience.  So, at times like
these, we have more than ourselves and our communities to which to
turn.  We have a God who stands with outstretched arms to embrace those
who call upon His love, mercy and care. 

What can God say
about this and every other evil?  You see, we want an explanation.  We
want to know what evil really is, why it’s there in the first place,
why it’s been allowed to continue, and how long this will go on.  You
can’t blame any of us for that!  It is interesting but when the bible
talks about evil it shows us again and again what God can do, is doing
and will do about evil!  That is the point of the biblical story.

Not
only is God not immobilized, ignorant or passive about human suffering
and pain…but God also addresses evil by getting personally and
profoundly involved in our lives.  That’s what the incarnation is all
about…that’s what Jesus is all about.  God getting up close and
personal with our experience and addressing it through the life, words,
death and resurrection of Jesus.  But more than that…in addition to
the incarnation, God wants to get US involved in speaking to evil and
pain.  On the one hand, God is confronting it, judging it and doing
something to stop evil and suffering from having its desired effect.
Yet, on the other hand, he is doing something new, beginning a new
project through which the underlying problem of the curse and the
disunity of the human family will be replaced by blessing.

God’s
great NO to evil has been acted out in the person of Jesus  The New
Testament story shows us how Jesus took the worst of evil and
“exhausted it”.  Jesus took it on and beat it.  His resurrection isn’t
some grandstanding of God; not some strange miracle; not some heavenly
reward for a “job well done”; rather it is the only and powerful result
of Jesus’ confrontation with evil.  The incredibly powerful truth is
that the work of Jesus as seen through his life and death isn’t
something that happened but something that happens.  We cannot reduce
it to a proposition – some neat statement that you can simply believe
as if just believing it settles the problem of sin and evil.  It is a
living reality.  It needs to be a living reality in the brokenness of
life.

A brilliant New Testament scholar and pastor once remarked,

“What
the Gospels offer is not a philosophical explanation of evil, what it
is or why it’s there, nor a set of suggestions for how we might adjust
our lifestyles so that evil will mysteriously disappear from the world,
but the story of an event in which the living God deals with it.”
N.T. Wright

The Gospels tell the story of the Creator God
taking responsibility for what has happened in creation and bearing the
weight of its problems on his own shoulders.  As Sydney Carter put it
in one of his finest songs, ‘it’s God they out to crucify, instead of
you and me’. Or, as one old evangelistic tract put it, the nations of
the world got together to pronounce judgment on God for all the evils
in the world only to realize with a shock that God has already served
his sentence”. There is a personal meaning in the cross of Jesus –
there will be a time when you and me, sinners that we are, will be
totally sinless, when God completes his work within us.  But WE ALREADY
HAVE, in anticipation of that future fact, forgiveness in the present
and the new life of the Holy Spirit that is made available to us
because Jesus was lifted up on the cross.

The call of the
good news of Jesus is for the people of God, the community of God, to
IMPLEMENT the victory of Jesus through suffering love.  The cross isn’t
something that happened…it happens!  It needs to be put into practice.
Two more quotes will finish up this brief article, both of which from
Tom Wright:

“Whether we are dealing with international
relations or one on one personal relations, evil must be named and
confronted.  There must be no sliding around it, no attempt (whether
for the sake of an easy life or in search of a quick fix) to pretend it
wasn’t so bad after all.  Only when that has been done, when both evil
and the evildoer have been identified as what and who they are…can
there be the embrace of the one who has deeply hurt and wounded us or
me.  Of course, even then this may not happen if the perpetrator of the
evil refuses to see his or her action in that light.  But if I have
named the evil and done my best to offer genuine forgiveness and
reconciliation, I am free to love the person even if they don’t want to
respond…the fact is that when we forgive someone we not only release
them from the burden of our anger and its possible consequences; we
release ourselves from the burden of whatever it was they had done to
us, and from the crippled emotional state in which we shall go on
living if we don’t forgive them and instead cling to our anger and
bitterness.  Forgiveness then – including God’s forgiveness of us, our
forgiveness of one another and our forgiveness even of ourselves – is a
central part of deliverance from evil.”

And one more…

“It
isn’t that the cross has won the victory, so there’s nothing more to be
done.  Rather, the cross has won the victory as a result of which there
are now redeemed human beings getting ready to act as God’s wise
agents, his stewards, constantly worshipping their Creator and
constantly, as a result, being equipped to reflect his image into his
creation, to bring his wise and healing order to the world, putting the
world to rights under his just and gentle rule.”

May your journey through this time be filled with God’s forgiving and healing presence.

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