Dark Skies and Spring Rain
Darks skies, persistent rain and heavy snow are hardly the anticipated signs of Spring! And today my heart reflects the weight of the elements as I ponder the world headlines: “Senseless School Shootings”; “Texas Tornadoes”; “Syrians Clash During Ceasefire”.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the darkness; and equally tempting to assign blame in an effort to make sense of the senseless. In these moments, from weather to warfare, God often bears the brunt of our frustration.
So, where is God in the darkness?
I suppose if I had my way I would choose to be rescued from all pain and sorrow and struggle. It seems to me that if God is powerful and compassionate, then we should expect God to intervene on our behalf as any good parent would want to do for their children. Yet, even with my own daughters, I realize that there are times when intervention is not the best approach. Bubble wrapping my children is not the solution. It would smother them. Love calls forth a different, more difficult, response. Love’s vocation is to be present in, and even share in, the pain of others.
Good Friday, and the cross of Jesus, reminds us that God shares our sorrow and is present in our suffering. The letter to the Hebrews declares that ‘we see Jesus . . . now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone’. God does not keep his distance from our struggles. God does not turn from our darkness. The loving response of God in Jesus is to enter our suffering.
How does this help us?
Henri Nouwen, known in Canada for his service in Jean Vanier’s L’Arche Community, makes an interesting observation regarding true friendship in his book, The Road to Daybreak:
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
In this same way, Jesus calls us to friendship with God through the cross.
Despite the darkness, the hope of Spring remains in my heart and the signs of new life are emerging all around. Just as winter precedes the Spring, so the road to daybreak includes suffering. In Jesus, we can find a companion for this journey and by his example we can provide hope and beauty to others who face darkness.
[This is my article for the Nelson Star for Good Friday 2012. Since I was too busy (or lazy) this week to write a fresh blog piece, I thought that I would make this one do double duty. Although I have promised a couple of people a follow up on the sermon last week, "What's Your Donkey?" Stay tuned!]