Saturday, July 25, 2009

He who suffers with us: Jesus Christ

Crucifixion, by Salvador Dali
Yesterday, my dear friend Sharon, quoting Marcel Proust, wrote something that is so very true that I felt it: "We are healed from suffering only by experiencing it to the full." Coming to understand this is so very necessary to Christian maturity. Otherwise, we remain stuck in a childish mode of pseudo faith.

Let's make it concrete: this childish mode of pseudo faith causes us to wonder where God is when we suffer. To question this is to ignore what novelist Susan Howatch captured so well in her novel Absolute Truths, when her character, Martin Darrow, a man who has recently gone through a self-induced personal catastrophe, tells Bishop Charles Ashworth how good it is, when going through a difficult time, to have a frank conversation with "someone who's gone through hell lately." This leads Martin to comment on God and suffering: "It makes all the difference to know there's someone else screaming alongside you - and that's the point of the Incarnation, I can see that so clearly now. God came into the world and screamed alongside us. Interesting idea, that."

Somehow the idea that it is precisely through our suffering that we are perfected is one that even many Christians now try to reject. To reject this is to deny Christ. I know this will sound trite and judgmental to many. It will not to those who have experienced Christ in their own suffering. It is a grace to be numbered among them.


  1. Oh, that quote actually belongs to Marcel Proust, which shows up on my blog. The feed only picks up the quote field unfortunately. Proust is a favorite of mine because I spent so long on my M.A. and he has a beautiful understanding of humanity and sacramental presence through much suffering. Everything you say is so true, and we are so awakened by circumstances (especially suffering) as to be astonished.

  2. Thanks, not only for the correction, but your elaboration.


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