Off the Beaten Path

The anguish is far deeper than you can understand unless you are walking in this briar patch with me. My professional success, if I ever believed as such, was no sacrificial offering to God in order to make life easier. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Pain and anguish, no matter what we may ask for the relief of, IS a part of our existence. It is in our DNA. No matter what science does, no matter the accomplishments of our medical field, we are forsaken. We are physically incomplete, imperfect, and the masquerade ball that we have dressed up for, is all a lie. You and I will, are, shall, suffer.
Our hatred and frustration for a God we cannot grasp is commonplace throughout holy writ. When Jesus quotes the passage of scripture found in the words of David through the Psalms, while hanging on a cross, he states the same anger towards God and in the same breath, associates himself with the suffering of all of humanity. My God, My God, why have you forsaken us? Why have you taken away a touch of the heaven you reside in? Our feet and hands are pierced, and you do not hear us? Why have you left us here to suffer and die? Every one of us, from child to adult, will ask this question, and deeply struggle, as deeply as that hole I dug to remove that invasive vine, we will dig to find an answer and mostly come up clueless because we hurt.
This is precisely the place, the appointed time slot, that Jesus enters the world. This is the answer that God has given to the question of our suffering. But we want a different answer, don’t we? Once again, I sit in celebration, Christmas trees and presents, pain and suffering, and am presented with this whole wrestling match with purposing my existence as some sort of a present to someone, anyone, who will walk this journey with me for you see, it is not about presents and packages but rather, it is about suffering.
The Grinch came and stole what he thought was Christmas only to find people still loving one another enough to share in their own suffering, their own humanity. It was, so to speak, the perfect community, that place called “whoville”, where everyone is tagged with a genotype of ugly faces, dumpy bodies, goofy hair, and teeth designed for beavers, but in reality, filled with love for one another.

None of it mattered though. The façade was the Grinch himself, who after experiencing betrayal and loss, after being made into the image of a villain, finally finds himself accepted. Maybe it was the stealing of the gifts that caused whoville to wake up to the needs of the Grinch and maybe even other Grinches who lurched in the dark. Who knows the conversations that happened after the feast when the town elders stopped to ask why he would do such a thing. Maybe it took this catastrophic event of the potential loss of everything to get them to stop and say, hold on, Christmas is more. Which all leads me to the one place that recurs with every rise and setting of the sun; my own suffering.
It is not if, but when we will suffer. It is not if we will be angry with a God who we thought gave us nice fancy answers that we could wrap up in a package like those under the Christmas tree; it is when. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me, us, them? Unto us, a child is given. Unto us, us suffering flesh, made to die, made to give birth as well to suffering, laid in a manger because there is no room in any Inn, any comfortable place, because that is our purpose, our presence, our being. He will be called Immanuel, God with us. God present. In our suffering. Oh I want not to do this suffering thing. Oh how I want it to be different for all of us. I want to give a gift that is under the tree that says to all, NO MORE SUFFERING! But that is not our reality, our existence, because our existence is this; Unto us a child is given, born in a back room alley, laid in a feeding trough, who suffers with us.

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Path”

  1. Your words are insightful, realistic, and faith-giving. They remind me of Jesus’ own experience—praying in the garden for the “cup” to pass from him, nevertheless accepting the cross as a reality. Your words, from time to time, don’t reduce your own suffering, but they do give voice to many others who suffer with chronic pain. Thanks, Kerry.

  2. Kerry, you’ve expressed so well the plight of the suffering servant. Some, like you, have experienced the depths of on-going pain. Others of us have periods of suffering and one day will walk through the dark valleys of suffering and pray that we can endure with God’s promise of Emmanuel present in our time of need.
    Be assured of our love and prayers for you and others, whom we are aware of, whom walk these dark valleys.

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