Monday, July 7, 2008

Knowing God in pain.

How is such a feat accomplished?

Anguish sears our souls, like a double grate of white-hot iron mechanically placed again and again on whatever wound we are bearing. For me it is the torment of extreme Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The last three years of my life, throughout the day and sometimes directly into the night; my mind shudders under the weight of one blasphemous impulse after the other... a brain lockdown that utilizes my worst religious fears to create a sort of biological demonic attack. I say this not to place myself ridiculously among the champions of the faith, as if three years of mental pain can even come close the blood of the martyrs which stains our history. Nor do I say this to place a neat smack of guilt on your own sufferings; as if I've hauled more and you ought to be ashamed at wincing. Relative to our experience and the history of our lives; every forthcoming hurdle is great of itself. Could David have found sustenance in years of flight from his enemy Saul had he not stood before the giant Goliath without armor? Could he have stood before Saul had he not faced the bear and the lion in his days as a shepherd?

Could God as man have borne the cross for nine hours without first bearing a three-year ministry of insult and verbal persecution? Could He have endured such a plight without first suffering in the desert without food and water for over a month?

From a life of physical torture and persecution to the pain of the first break-up, or the loss of dear friends due to Christian faith, each man knows his own sufferings, each mans sufferings are great.

The question however, is so what? What are we to do with the knowing of God when all notions of relationship seem to be an utter impossibility, when we have been let down, pounded to the ground and abandoned? In our culture, which is built on the legitimate premise of conditional love, this is the failure of contract, this is the time for divorce...because in all things, experiential physical and emotional God has divorced us.

I will present to you the opposite, however. I would like to propose to you that God is best known in the unknowing of Him; God is best known in abandonment, pain, anguish, grief and suffering. When every prayer is a gutteral moan, a grasping of oil in the hand or a catching of the moonbeam, Here is the very analogy of God most suitable to man. Here is the very reconciliation and redemptive act of God to man!

Are we not all familiar with the words uttered by Christ on the cross? They echo psalm 22," My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?!!!"

When God has forsaken you; failed you, abandoned you, given you over to torture and pain and destruction, here you are intimate with Christ. Here you can draw near to the cross and say," Jesus, I am with you. I am forgotten of God, condemned to die and wounded." And He will say," Son, I am with you; sharing in your pain and tasting of your grief. Sit awhile with me."

The intimacy of two people sharing a grief is difficult to explain in words, because words are little shared in the exchange.

Draw near to Christ in your sufferings and His. This is the nearness of God that cannot be separated; because Christ (God) is separated from God for us and with us. Our merger to God is in the very cutting off; so take heart; you are nearer to Him now, more candidate to a relationship with Him then you could ever be as healthy, wealthy and prosperous.

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