I’ve been reading Luke’s gospel. Twasn’t my idea, but I’m doing it.
As I sat on my sofa with my feet on the old repose-pieds, I experienced one of those wonderful moments where you discover all over again – from your head to your toes to your heart to your tears – that Jesus is the most incredible person who ever lived. This particular experience was poignant and somewhat unusual in that all the while knowing in my knower that who he is is true and real and that nothing makes sense otherwise, I also had the question : “But… are you big enough?”
In the face of suffering in the world – from personal loneliness, to 2 year olds with throat cancer, to earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear emergencies all in one small nation – is the truth of Jesus big enough?
Questions like this can be easily answered but seldom satisfied…
In my faltering grasp of what the voice of God sounds like, I think he spoke to me about hope as suffering. I was reflecting on the passage (that makes it sound awffy spiritually mature of me – it was kind of by accident which is what makes me think it wasn’t just my own ‘wisdom’! Plus the savvy amongst you will note its not even IN Luke so really I wasn’t even concentrating properly!) where Jesus talks about taking up our crosses and following him and assures us we’ll know suffering. Fun.
Maybe I’m over-emotional by nature, or maybe its this weirded-out nothing-in-my-life-is-the-same-what-the-flip-am-I-doing-in-this-country-again?-ness that’s making me even more so sensitive… But there’s something in beauty and goodness that really hurts sometimes.
You see, beauty and goodness awaken and feed hope. And hope is the voice that -as Emily Dickinson wrote – ‘sings the tune without the words’ even when all around is yelling and screaming “Impossible!!!!”, it is the light that should not be hidden under a bushel when all around is enveloped in darkness and despair, it is the feet that keep climbing, one step at a time, when the crowd is going the other direction. It’d be easier – less painful – to give in and give up.
Hope is a longing for the fulfilment of who I am, of who I was created to be, of Who I am created to know. To hold on to these realities is painful because that fulfilment is still to come – its like being in labour (I imagine!) – painful! But it is sure and certain that the end result will be worth it.
I don’t feel I’m quite communicating it.
But anyway – hope as suffering. I really don’t like that Jesus says we’ll suffer – I never have. I guess I feel that if I were in a country where I’m physically persecuted for my faith or where my life was at stake etc, that that reality would have much more meaning and immediate effect and my super-Christianness would kick in. Whereas tucked up in relatively comfortable (however an admittedly nuclear-energy-making:S ) corner of Western Europe its hard to engage with in any sort of real way. I’ve heard too many John-P-esque insinuations that God gives you cancer for the hell of it (or, er… sorry, His glory) to hear ‘you will suffer’ in a faith-filled ‘God-is-good-and-he-reigns’ kind of way.
But as I thought about the pain hope can inflict, I figured that that’s the kind of suffering I’m up for – not that my personal inclination should dictate interpretation! But, you know what I mean? As we breathe and drink and eat and sing and shine Hope, as our hearts and souls bleed its very essence where we live and work and do life, we suffer and yet we live. We crucify our way of life so that He might live in and through us, so that Hope is filled and Joy comes with the morning.
Eugh. That’s the best I can do in trying to explain it.
But I guess He’s big enough to sort that out.