When intense physical, emotional, spiritual or mental suffering comes to you, you have a stark choice. Either you enter more deeply into the meaning of suffering, where you find Christ, not just as a theological idea or someone somewhere else, but living, alive with you, more deeply than you could ever have imagined before this suffering came upon you; or you choose a path of fear and despair.
When fully comprehended, it is almost too much to dare to look, to dare to open yourself to feel, to dare to hear the acuteness of the pain or grief of the person who is suffering. Even though you long to desire to help, there are few who do not feel intimidated by the vastness of the experience.
(From my book “Beyond Normal Prayer” : out soon)
ONLY POETRY CAN BEGIN TO EXPRESS PROFOUND SUFFERING. TO WITNESS MY WIFE WEEPING IN TORMENT, FROM THE AGONY OF HER ILLNESS DEFIES WORDS, IT IS SO HORRIBLE.
Utterly broken by the noise assault upon my being
It enters into every nook and cranny
of my existence,
And devours me from the inside,
paralysing me from head to toe,
so that time after time,
no part escapes.
I am tormented.
I am scalded with pain.
I am raging at the injustice:
the continued violation of my home,
my living space,
till I can no longer bear
of the horror of it.
It defines my life.
It breaks me into tiny fragments
so that my body will not,
to hold me up,
this daily torture
from loud and violating noise attacks
to even simple ordinary things.
It is unrelenting
and a violent assault
upon an already weak
and fractured body.
My life is being torn from me
And ripped apart
with crass ignorance
or abuse of power and might
or simply, just by being in the room with me now,
in the wrong moment,
in the wrong way,
at the wrong angle,
without realising the danger
till I am left weeping
my soul crying for mercy
of medical neglect.
I read this morning how Christ was stripped of everything- except love. Reflecting upon 21 years of caring for my wife, in a song, last night, I have some idea of the cost.
Twenty one years is a long time. We are much older now, we have been discussing recently how we would like to spend the next 21 years: by then we will be quite elderly.
I have some tiny idea of what it is to labour for a long time, yet be crucified by the system.
Stripped of everything except love; that is the power of the Cross, the source of all life.
If you want to speak of the Cross with authenticity then you have to have suffered great pain and injustice.
You have to have felt or been physically, emotionally, mentally broken and overwhelmed by the weight of your brokenness and the extreme agony intrinsically born within it.
If you want to know the truth of the Cross and many speak of it without such knowledge, you must enter profoundly into the heart of suffering and there, beyond your utterly damaged being, find love.
This is a profound surprise and strength :that in the centre of such destruction on every level, still you exist in a huge and vast sense beyond the physical boundary of your body.
You exist and more than this, God is present with you and loves you. His Mercy knows no bounds. His love is everywhere, huge, vast and unmistakably with you. His love heals, saves, is. And you cannot stay a victim in this knowledge. You cannot be powerless, for you are one with Him and this oneness breaks open all untruth, injustice, wrongness, sin and restores light and goodness and brings profound healing and hope. Amen