Suffering, reconsidered

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Two posts ago we discussed evil, pain and suffering.

I suggested that evil may be most properly understood not as a “thing” in itself but as the absence of good; the absence of God.

As such God would not have technically created evil, as it is a thing that exists as a consequence of His absence; and the possibility of His absence only became reality when the option to reject Him became viable.

Thus evil is personal to God: it is His wound. It exists as a result of His injury, not because He chooses what the nature of evil is, but because the nature of evil is necessarily what it is because this is what it looks like when God is injured.

For God’s wound to heal (for evil to be eliminated), the source of the injury must be removed.

It is again not God’s “choice,” per se, to determine what the nature of His wound is.

Because in the Trinity there is perfect love, acceptance and commitment, the existence of anything other than this wounds God.

That is why rejection of Him (rebellion; sin) is “bad” – it alters the foundations of existence, because the only foundation on which all is built is God Himself.

He can no more change that than we can stop the sun from rising: it is the basis of existence for God, and as He is the basis of our existence, to reject Him is to necessarily also reject who we ourselves truly are.

As God can not alter the parameters of who He Himself is, neither can we alter our own: we were created to be in relationship with Him, in union with Him as He within the Trinity is in union with Himself.

This is why we exist, whether we like it or not or choose to accept it or not. We have, like God, no ability to change who we are.

So for evil to end – for God’s wound to heal and reality to return to its natural state – rejection of Him (sin) must end. That is how His pierced side heals.

The assumed simplest solution for God would be to eradicate the source of the imbalance: those creatures that altered reality to begin with.

But that is not God’s choice. His choice is to become His wound Himself – to embody His own rejection – so that those who injured Him could continue to exist with Him in reality.

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Because He loves us. Not because He was lonely (He was completely fulfilled, satisfied, and in love within Himself), but because the natural consequence of love is a movement out to expand love: true love is so good that by nature those experiencing it are compelled to expand it.

Where you experience pure joy, you want there to be others to share it with: for their sake because you know the joy is so good but also because it increases the overall quality of the joy.

Love is part of God. God is love; it’s His nature and does not exist if He does not.

Part of love’s nature is unity: in pure unadulterated love one person shares completely the life of another.

This is how the Trinity lives love. The Father is in the Son as the Son is in the Father, and likewise with the Holy Spirit. What one “experiences” so do the others.

Before God was wounded, there was no evil (thus suffering or pain) to experience because it did not exist.

But once evil became a part of reality, those united in love united in experiencing it along with all other experiences.

And there’s the rub.

While God’s wound continues to heal all of creation is subject to the ramifications God is subject to; but God took the brunt of it on the Cross.

All of humanity, even those who reject God, remain at least latently connected to Him due to the nature of who we are: creatures created to BE in relation with Him; until and unless He severs that connection completely, we all by our nature (and the rest of creation as subject to humanity) share in His experience, in reality.

We get glimpses of the joy that is His joy and the pain that is His pain.

For those who actively choose to unite with God in love, our share in His full experience can be intensified: our joys more joyful yet our sorrows more painful because we more directly connect to Reality.

Dare this be the answer to why we suffer? Because if we are to love we have to experience all that our Lover does? And our Lover continues to suffer in order that we may join in His ultimate joy?

Dare this be why we Christians are told to pick up our cross and follow Jesus? Why we are to count it joy to share in His sufferings? Because we know that we are drawing closer to Him in love by sharing in what He feels?

That instead of being angry at God when we hurt, we should be filled with compassion? Because we know our pain is only a small fraction of what God continues to endure for no other reason than our sake?

That our perception of evil and suffering shouldn’t be indignation at God’s continued allowance of its existence but, in some utterly bizarre way, thankfulness that it is not fully eliminated so that love may continue to expand, mixed with true mourning of the horror that it is and a triumphant acceptance and anticipation that the war with it HAS been won and the battles WILL end?

Is evil’s continued existence an utterly terrible and lamentable yet necessary example of God’s mercy and compassion towards us?

And while it is right to mourn and fight it, should we not in proper time be thankful for the experience (if most assuredly NOT the actions and events behind the experiences) of sharing this with God because it means our love is genuine and our unity with Him is increasing?

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Christ, our pain is Your pain; Your pain is our pain. Because we love You and we want to share Life with You.

Bring all people to You, Father, quickly, so that evil may finally end and our joy made complete.

And may we submit ourselves to be extensions of You, with You in us, toward this end.

In Christ’s name, may it be so.

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4 thoughts on “Suffering, reconsidered

  1. Good stuff, eloquently said. There are a ton of biographies on Mother Teresa, and I read one but I can’t remember which one right now. She had a lot to say, as any good Catholic does, on the suffering of Jesus and our share in it.

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