Thursday, 21 June 2012

A Lament

I thought I should write something deep and meaningful and hopeful by way of introduction. But I don’t know how.  I can’t couch this with explanation this time around.

On Tuesday my classmates and I watched ‘God On Trial’ – a film about a group of Jewish men in a bare wooden hut in the Auschwitz concentration camp during the Second World War. These men were asking the tough questions of faith; they were asking God and each other why this hellish stuff was happening, and why God wasn’t doing anything about it.

I imagined what I would say if I were there. I imagined that my kids were sick, or stolen, or dead. I imagined that people had cut off my hair along with any connection with the reality I once knew. I imagined that my clothes and my dignity were in tatters and that there was nothing I could do to cover my shame. I imagined that I’d say this:

It’s dark and I can’t see you
It’s so noisy, I can’t hear your gentle, quiet whisper
But sometimes, it’s so quiet, yet all I can hear
                is the voice in my head
                and the voice of my soul
                screaming in agony
It’s cold, and I can’t feel the warmth of your presence
I can’t see you
                or hear you
                or feel you
And I’m scared
Because I’m lost, I don’t know where I am
But worse still, I don’t know where you are
O Lord, do not be far from me
Come quickly to help me
For trouble is near and there is no one to help
Lament – that’s what I would do. I’d wail like a Kuia at a Tangi. I’d curl up on the cold, cold ground and cry out. I’d tear my clothes and cover my body with ashes and dust.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me
Why are you so far from saving me.
So far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out to you by day, but you do not answer,
By night, but I find no rest.

(Psalm 22)

Jesus cried these words too. Jesus knew suffering. Jesus was a Man of Sorrows, a Suffering Servant.
My friend Ed said, “’who needs a God who suffers?’ I do! I need a God who suffers because I am suffering.”

The question of suffering is a big one. And the answer is…that none of us can give an answer – not the most astute theologian, not even Bishop Shallard himself. But we can know this: Christ is with us in our suffering. And we can cry, along with Alistair as he echoes Peter’s words to Christ, “Where else can we go? You alone hold the words of eternal life”, and along with Gary Ma and the people of old, “for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”
Immanuel, God is with us, we are not alone anymore.

[1] Psalm 22
[2] Psalm 42