The Dance of Suffering and Love
The recent martyrdom of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya in late February continues to roll around in my heart. The shock of the early news reports has worn off, and a redemptive news story has emerged: The Bible Society of Egypt is using the event to publish tracts that proclaim the power of Jesus in the midst of such a tragedy. So the grief has been softened. But it hangs on. And it settles in deeper as I read about subsequent events, like ISIS dragging another 100 Christians into captivity.
In a world instantly connected, where all manner of tragedies flash before our eyes every day—well, what are we supposed to do with the ever-deepening grief? And what can we possibly do about the events that prompt it?
We feel helpless. The temptation is to drown it out with entertainment or hobbies or more frenetic work, maybe even church work. Or to simply not read the news. Or a hundred other creative solutions. For the sake of our sanity, we need to retreat to these shelters now and then. Yet we want to do more than escape.
As I ponder this, I find myself increasingly trying to fathom the mystery of love. Precisely because love is a mystery, and a divine mystery at that, we will never be able to completely fathom it. But we can understand at least this much: that there is no love without suffering, that we never learn to love until we learn to suffer. We may not be able to fathom why love and suffering embrace, but that it is written into the fabric of existence—that much is clear.
And because of the dance of love and suffering, we can move into grief with reverent awe, knowing we are participating in the very life blood of God.
As Holy Week approaches, we read once again about the divine marriage of love ...
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