Love of God is a strange thing to our culture. This is the land of the prenuptial agreement, the careful negotiation of territory (physical and moral), the angry defense of right and privileged (real and perceived). It is interesting to me that all the while, when we as a nation and a culture proclaim that we are religious, not far below the surface, we are actually a people who value the “art of the deal.”
That’s the funny thing about the love of God (not our love for God but God’s love of and for us). The comforting thing is that this love of God was no more or less strange in the land and culture of Jesus: we read in the gospels that it took even his closest friends a long time and a lot of mental gymnastics to grasp it fully. Peter, James, John, Mary Magdalene were not always able to or ready to understand its nature as absolute and without limit. Perhaps this is the reason they were not able easily to recognize the Risen Christ – so gutted and disappointed were they about their friend’s agonizing death on the cross that they had no eyes to see his risen glory right in front of them.
Is that the way it is with us? When was the last time we found it hard to believe, to be a person of faith? How many times have we heard our doubts expressed in comments like this – if there was a God, how could he let this thing happen?
When we see or hear or feel this, it is time for us to recall that God’s limitless love for us is signified by a cross. Even God, the only one for whom pain is not a necessity does not avoid that pain, does not escape its grasp. In the midst of that which breaks our hearts in two, God remains to abide with and to comfort. Sometimes, it takes that fracture to allow God finally to enter hearts that have been hardened along the way.
We do not know why things happen the way they do, but we know from the great cloud of witnesses that has preceded us, that time and time again, God can yet bring life out of the darkness and the silence even of death itself. When we doubt God’s goodness profoundly, God makes the move – God enters our ruptured hearts and acts to transform the ashes of our sorrow into still greater love.