Answering Atheism (Conclusion)

It is written:

“In all their affliction He was afflicted, And the Angel of His Presence saved them; In His love and in His pity He redeemed them; And He bore them and carried them All the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:9)

Without a doubt, the most powerful and profound truth that I have discovered in studying the problem of evil, pain, and suffering is Jesus Himself. The cries of Earth are not indifferent to Heaven, and the willingness of the Godhead to send Jesus is the ultimate proof of this proposition. God deeply understands the pain that we experience, and Jesus shows us this.

Especially by His death on the Cross, Jesus join us all in our pain, guilt, and shame.

“Calvary is judo. The enemy’s own power is used to defeat him. Satan’s craftily orchestrated plot, rolled along according to plan by his agents Judas, Pilate, Herod, and Caiaphas, culminated in the death of God. And this very event, Satan’s conclusion, was God’s premise. Satan’s end was God’s means. It saved the world. Christians celebrate the greatest evil and the greatest tragedy of all time as Good Friday. In the symbolic language of Revelation, the meek little Lamb (arnion) defeats the great and terrible Beast (therion) in the last battle, the fight for the heavyweight championship of the universe, by shedding his own blood. Satan’s bloody plan became the means of his own despoilment. God won Satan’s captives—us—back to himself by freely dying in our place….In coming into our world he came also into our suffering. He sits beside us in the stalled car in the snowbank. Sometimes he starts the car for us, but even when he doesn’t, he is there. That is the only thing that matters. Who cares about cars and success and miracles and long life when you have God sitting beside you? He sits beside us in the lowest places of our lives, like water. Are we broken? He is broken with us. Are we rejected? Do people despise us not for our evil but for our good, or attempted good? He was “despised and rejected of men.” Do we weep? Is grief our familiar spirit, our horrifyingly familiar ghost? Do we ever say, “Oh, no, not again! I can’t take any more!”? He was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Do people misunderstand us, turn away from us? They hid their faces from him as from an outcast, a leper. Is our love betrayed? Are our tenderest relationships broken? He too loved and was betrayed by the ones he loved. “He came unto his own and his own received him not.” Does it seem sometimes as if life has passed us by or cast us out, as if we are sinking into uselessness and oblivion? He sinks with us. He too is passed over by the world. His way of suffering love is rejected, his own followers often the most guilty of all; they have made his name a scandal, especially among his own chosen people. What Jew finds the road to him free from the broken weapons of bloody prejudice? We have made it nearly impossible for his own people to love him, to see him as he is, free from the smoke of battle and holocaust. How does he look upon us now? With continual sorrow, but never with scorn. We add to his wounds. There are nineteen hundred nails in his cross. We, his beloved and longed for and passionately desired, are constantly cold and correct and distant to him. And still he keeps brooding over the world like a hen over an egg, like a mother who has had all of her beloved children turn against her. “Could a mother desert her young? Even so I could not desert you.” He sits beside us not only in our sufferings but even in our sins. He does not turn his face from us, however much we turn our face from him. He endures our spiritual scabs and scars, our sneers and screams, our hatreds and haughtiness, just to be with us. Withness—that is the word of love. Does he descend into all our hells? Yes. In the unforgettable line of Corrie ten Boom from the depths of a Nazi death camp, “No matter how deep our darkness, he is deeper still.” Does he descend into violence? Yes, by suffering it and leaving us the solution that to this day only a few brave souls have dared to try, the most notable in this century not even a Christian but a Hindu. Does he descend into insanity? Yes, into that darkness too. Even into the insanity of suicide? Can he be there too? Yes he can. “Even the darkness is not dark to him.” He finds or makes light even there, in the darkness of the mind—perhaps not until the next world, until death’s release. For the darkest door of all has been shoved open and light from beyond it has streamed into our world to light our way, since he has changed the meaning of death. It is not merely that he rose from the dead, but that he changed the meaning of death, and therefore also of all the little deaths, all the sufferings that anticipate death and make up parts of it. Death, like a cancer, seeps back into life. We lose little bits of life daily—our health, our strength, our youth, our hopes, our dreams, our friends, our children, our lives—all these dribble away like water through our desperate, shaking fingers. Nothing we can do, not our best efforts, holds our lives together. The only lives that don’t spring leaks are the ones that are already all watery. The only hearts that do not break are the ones that are busily constructing little hells of loveless control, cocoons of safe, respectable selfishness to insulate themselves from the tidal wave of tears that comes sooner or later. But he came into life and death, and he still comes. He is still here. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 2 5:40). He is here. He is in us and we are in him; we are his body. He is gassed in the ovens of Auschwitz. He is sneered at in Soweto. He is cut limb from limb in a thousand safe and legal death camps for the unborn strewn throughout our world, where he is too tiny for us to see or care about. He is the most forgotten soul in the world. He is the one we love to hate. He practices what he preaches: he turns his other cheek to our slaps. That is what love is, what love does, and what love receives. Love is why he came. It’s all love. The buzzing flies around the cross, the stroke of the Roman hammer as the nails tear into his screamingly soft flesh, the infinitely harder stroke of his own people’s hammering hatred, hammering at his heart—why? For love. God is love, as the sun is fire and light, and he can no more stop loving than the sun can stop shining. Henceforth, when we feel the hammers of life beating on our heads or on our hearts, we can know—we must know—that he is here with us, taking our blows. Every tear we shed becomes his tear. He may not yet wipe them away, but he makes them his. Would we rather have our own dry eyes, or his tear-filled ones? He came. He is here. That is the salient fact. If he does not heal all our broken bones and loves and lives now, he comes into them and is broken, like bread, and we are nourished. And he shows us that we can henceforth use our very brokenness as nourishment for those we love. Since we are his body, we too are the bread that is broken for others. Our very failures help heal other lives; our very tears help wipe away tears; our being hated helps those we love. When those we love hang up on us, he keeps the lines open. His withness with us enables us to be with those who refuse to be with us….Let’s step back a bit. We began with the mystery, not just of suffering but of suffering in a world supposedly created by a loving God. How to get God off the hook? God’s answer is Jesus. Jesus is not God off the hook but God on the hook. That’s why the doctrine of the divinity of Christ is crucial: If that is not God there on the cross but only a good man, then God is not on the hook, on the cross, in our suffering. And if God is not on the hook, then God is not off the hook. How could he sit there in heaven and ignore our tears? There is, as we saw, one good reason for not believing in God: evil. And God himself has answered this objection not in words but in deeds and in tears. Jesus is the tears of God.” (Peter Kreeft, Making Sense Out Of Suffering, 132-140 (Kindle Edition); Ann Arbor, Michigan; Servant Books)

The entire Godhead joined in Jesus’ time on Earth, and in His rescue mission from Heaven (Isaiah 48:16).

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