Saturday, April 3, 2010

Not alone in suffering

Our fasting and prayer yesterday on Good Friday were dedicated to our friends, recently married, who yesterday faced surgery for her recurrence of breast cancer. The fact that these dear friends, our age and just newlyweds, are faced with this unbelievable trial feels so wrong and unjust. As T and I fasted and prayed for her surgery as part of our Good Friday remembrance, we experienced anew the reality that we are not alone in our suffering. We have a Living God who suffered ultimately for us on a cross and holds us intimately in our suffering today.
Here is a excerpt from a note T sent to our friends in an email on the eve of her surgery. It is a fitting reminder for Good Friday:

"There is nothing I can say that will bring you more comfort than your knowledge of and faith in Christ. Our true human condition is certainly desperate at all times yet we tend to fluxuate between feelings of sheer invincibility and complete vulnerability. True insight into our delicate, even fragile nature is given sparingly and for that we must be thankful. Yet some of those who have suffered much are drawn so close to Christ as to occupy a position that he rarely, if ever, grants access to. It is a place only gained by trial and only understood by those that bear the scars of the journey. But make no mistake--it is a place of intimate and infinite blessing. You are given a place at the table where those bleeding meet a cup of blood and broken spirit meets broken bone. And then there He is. Your Host. The Host. And all He asks is for your trust and your love.
British pastor John R. W. Stott wrote the following concerning the God he knows and the suffering we experience. I referenced it in the eulogy of my father when he passed away a little less than a year ago:

"I myself could never believe in God were it not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as 'God on the Cross.' In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time, after a while I have had to turn away. And in my imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wretched, brow bleeding from thorn pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside His immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of His. 
 There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark - the Cross, which symbolizes divine suffering." ~John R.W.Stott

Please pray for our young friend. May the message of Good Friday: ultimate hope amidst ultimate suffering, be with you and point you toward the Resurrection power of Easter. God bless you.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

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