Tim Keller: “You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” (5).
“Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.” (30).
Waking With God through Pain and Suffering
FIRE ALARM Ringing (Hebrews 2:17-18, 4:14-16) 17… he had to be made like them,[a] fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted… Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
This lately has been one of my favorite verses. When people wrestle with evil, they feel like God has abandoned them, unable to help them, powerless to defend them, but we see that God experienced the fullness of what man had created in rebellion. IN fact, on the cross, Jesus rejected the gall drink which was meant to dull the pain, and he embraced our pain fully conscience, fully aware, and fully incarnate. He embraced it all in hopes that he would be our rescuer—allowing pain to prod us into action–rousing us from our slumber. Then he took the next step and became our deliverer, his body as a sacrifice which would atone for our sins, not temporarily, but eternally as he took on the role of the Great High Priest. The result is something undeserved, instead of being judged by our goodness, we are given his grace. It is in response to that gift that he calls us to turn back to Him. Continue reading “Suffering #3: Alarm Ringing”
My sister-in-law recently visited Poland where she took a tour of Auschwitz, seeing those words above the camp translated- “Work Will Set You Free,” knowing full well the work within the walls was anything but freedom. She said it was the most solemn and silent setting she had ever been.
Almost 50 years ago Elie Wiesel, a fifteen-year old prisoner in the Nazi death camp at Buna, could relate to that feeling. A cache of arms belonging to a Dutchman had been discovered at the camp. The man was promptly shipped to Auschwitz. But he had a young servant boy, a pipel as they were called, a child with a refined and beautiful face, unheard of in the camps. He had the face of a sad angel. The little servant, like his Dutch master, was cruelly tortured, but would not reveal any information. So the SS sentenced the child to death, along with two other prisoners who had been discovered with arms. Wiesel tells the story: One day when we came back from work, we saw three gallows rearing up in the assembly place, three black crows. Roll call. SS all around us; machine guns trained: the traditional ceremony. Three victims in chains–and one of them, the little servant, the sad- eyed angel. The SS seemed more preoccupied, more disturbed than usual. To hang a young boy in front of thousands of spectators was no light matter. The head of the camp read the verdict. All eyes were on the child. He was lividly pale, almost calm, biting his lips. The gallows threw its shadow over him. This time the Lagercapo refused to act as executioner. Three SS replaced him. The three victims mounted together onto the chairs. The three necks were placed at the same moment within the nooses. “Long live liberty!” cried the two adults. But the child was silent. “Where is God? Where is He?” someone behind me asked. Total silence throughout the camp. On the horizon, the sun was setting. “Bare your heads!” yelled the head of the camp. His voice was raucous. We were weeping. “Cover your heads!” Then the march past began. The two adults were no longer alive. Their tongues hung swollen, blue-tinged but the third rope was still moving; being so light, the child was still alive…For more than half an hour he stayed there, struggling between life and death, dying in slow agony under our eyes. And we had to look him full in the face. He was still alive when I passed in front of him. His tongue was still red; his eyes were not yet glazed. Behind me, I heard the same man asking: “Where is God now?” Continue reading “Suffering Part #1- True Love”