The Answer to “That” Question
Isaiah 63: 15
† In His Name †
As we ask the questions, we cannot find the answers to, may become aware of God’s richest grace and mercy and love enfolding us, allowing us to poor out our pain, our grief, our anger… on the One who came to take it away…
It is a movie I watch a few times a year – one of those favorites, that even though you know the lines, the plot – and in this case – the incredible martial arts… you love to sink yourself into.
As a kid, I loved it because of the martial arts, and the hero taking on odds of 20, 50 even 100 to one. As an adult – as an one studies mankind, the movie is fascinating in a different way – as there are different reactions to injustice, to hatred, to evil.
There are the bad guys, who do whatever they want – and do not care about the victims. The ones we love to hate, yet in the end, find ourselves pitying, even as they get what they ask for.
There was the sheriff and the doctor – who though on the side of good, restrained their public speech against those who “controlled the town.
There was the pacifists – who took action by doing their own thing – trying to protect everyone – even at the cost of their own suffering, even hiding that suffering in a supposedly noble desire to avoid further violence, further pain, further sin.
Then there was Billy, the one who could spin and kick and whose presence could intimidate and cause people to behave for the moment… but who couldn’t be everywhere at once. Over the movie, he would transform – from a man focused on retribution to one who would publicly submit – that there could be some hope for reconciliation, some hope for peace… some hope for a future.
As the credits role at the end, as the hero is taken away in police cars, as the people honor him, the trauma is still left behind, and while there is some hope for the future… there is also a past to heal from. I look at that… and it is…right.
For none of those involved in the story have the answer… and in this world, it seems like all we can do some time is try to project how to prevent such trauma in the future. And maybe that should be enough – but for me it is far from it.
There is a verse that expresses what my heart cries out to :
Isaiah 63:15 (MSG) 15 Look down from heaven, look at us! Look out the window of your holy and magnificent house! Whatever happened to your passion, your famous mighty acts, Your heartfelt pity, your compassion? Why are you holding back?
Today, in light of Robert’s funeral, in light of the massacres in China and Connecticut on Friday, in light of all the trauma – the question has been asked to me multiple times – where is God? Where is He? Has He abandoned us?
Advent of all times in the year – perhaps gives us the best answer…
One that wasn’t heard in the movie, which is why, it left me with questions, with just a momentary hope, and no peace in the present.
The Pain –
In the movie – all the reactions to something so horrible, so incredibly unjust, are our normal reactions. Even if we are only witnesses from a distance, we almost adopt the people involved – as we are grateful the incident wasn’t here, or across the street. The sorrow and grief grows – especially if we have been in a situation similar, or cared for those who were. If we’ve seen the life-less eyes, robbed of joy. The pain grows as we hear things, some true, some not so true.
With the pain, there often comes frustration – we can’t even begin to conceive a logical explanation for these times of suffering – and that frustration turns quickly into anger. Anger at the perpetrator, anger at the evilness of society, anger that something wasn’t done, anger that we can’t do anything to help.. anger at God for even allowing such evil to exist.
That anger soon turns on those who allow it to ferment – and we saw that in the last two days, as people tried to diagnose what caused the young man in Connecticut and the man in China. Such anger also occurs, when rather than praying, we find ourselves engaged in debates on how to prevent further incidents such as there. We try to work everything out while we are still pained, stressed, grieving, remembering… and we end up, in our pain, not seeing, or caring for those who are likewise trying to grieve and process the news and emotions.
Heck – I find myself incredibly pained and frustrated and angry at how my friends treated each other, as they tried to make the case for their positions, when instead we should have all been on our knees, praying for the comfort of those directly affected, and those whose scars from prior tragedies have those scars ripped open again….
We might even find ourselves, internalizing all of this or trying this time – to ignore the pain, the grief, or trying to find someone to vent upon – or pour out our wrath upon…and then the guilt is added to the scenario – if we realize we too…have our victims.
The time to purge…
We can’t avoid dealing with these things… we can’t just bottle them up – we have to find a way to vent it all, and to vent in a way that doesn’t create other victims. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen – we should never ever not be in pain when they do.
There is a key to this, that is in that verse….there – right in the middle –
“Whatever happened to your passion? Where is your pity? Your Compassion?
You see, they knew of God’s love – even when they were in pain. Isaiah described it a few verses before…
I’ll make a list of GOD’s gracious dealings, all the things GOD has done that need praising, All the generous bounties of GOD, his great goodness to the family of Israel— Compassion lavished, love extravagant. 8 He said, “Without question these are my people, children who would never betray me.” So he became their Savior. 9 In all their troubles, he was troubled, too. He didn’t send someone else to help them. He did it himself, in person. Out of his own love and pity he redeemed them. He rescued them and carried them along for a long, long time.
Isaiah 63:7-9 (MSG) 7
They knew His compassion, His love, that we indeed are His people – it isn’t his nature to leacev us alone – it never has been, from Adam and Eve, to Abraham and Lot, to Moses or Joshua or David… or Job.
I love it that it says – in all their troubles, He was troubled too…
And it is incredible to realize – that God comes down, that He doesn’t leave these things up to others – but in these times – He is here…
And that is the message of advent.. He doesn’t leave us alone….. He never planned to, He never does, even when it seems that all is going to hell in the world…for that is what Mary had to treasure…the manger would lead to the cross, to the bearing of all sin, all pain, all anger. Isaiah again says it well
1 Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought GOD’s saving power would look like this? 2
4 But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. 5 But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his stripes we get healed. Isaiah 53:1-5 (MSG
Can we lay our burdens on the crucified one?
I know we hurt, even those on the fringe, or who see the fears for their children lived out in the lives of others. We in our anger and pain want to strigke out – want to rail against the evil – we want to take on something. I understand that! I know that desire – to somehow focus all of our rage, all of our pain on someone….
There is only one place to focus that rage – to focus that pain, to focus the anger…..the place that God focused it – along with all His wrath – not just for this massive evil example of sin, but all of the sin we deal with…
We have to go to the cross – to pour out our pain, our anguish, our anger on Jesus Christ – as He lies there – a victim unlike any other – for He chose to be the victim – to take all of the wrath for such actions, to let such sin, and the grief it causes to be nailed with Him there to the cross.
It is there – that our reactions, which can in themselves be sinful and trauma causing and sinful.. can be poured out…. on Jesus, as the cross…
Empty of the pain, our eyes perhaps unable to cry anymore… we find at the cross peace…