Mar 5, 2010

Suffering - God longs for the likes of me

William Stuntz is a professor at Harvard Law School who has suffered for 11 years from chronic back pain, and in 2008 was found to have numerous tumors that have since metastasized and spread through his body.  He is 52, and won't live another full year.  He spoke with Patheos' Timothy Dalrymple in his office Feb. 2.

This article asks Prof. Stuntz directly the questions that acutely face him because of his condition, but in reality should be addressed to all of us. I would only add that in this equation about suffering, two points cannot be overlooked; 1) Suffering entered the world because the world has rejected God through sin, i.e. the world is broke, profoundly so, and this brokenness extends to us and our damaged and deformed nature. 2) there was never any reason, nor excuse for this original sin (harmatia - falling short), that is Adam & Eve only had one Commandment - and did not keep it though they knew better  3) suffering is redemptive, and therefore the only real way to make any sense out of the world, out of our existence.

Lead question: Have you ever, in Christian circles, been blamed for your fate?  Have you ever been told that your pain or your cancer would go away if you prayed with faith?

Final question:
Do you have any favorite quotations or favorite scriptures, when it comes to death?
Yes, a passage in the fourteenth chapter of Job.  The passage as a whole is not hopeful.  Job is uncertain what will happen to him when he dies.  In the end, he says that he will return to dust and there will be nothing after death.
In the midst of the passage, however, before he turns to despair, he has a moment of hope.  It's a brief moment, just a couple of verses in the midst of an extended passage.  Yet he says, "You will call and I will answer.  You will long for the creature your hands have made" (Job 14:15). 
I find those lines very powerful.  The concept that God longs for the likes of me is so unspeakably sweet.  I almost cannot bear to say them aloud.  They are achingly sweet for me to hear.
There are many passages I love, but that one in particular has grabbed hold of me.  Job's hope, it turns out, is more realistic than his despair.

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