As we move through Holy Week, walking with Jesus toward his death, you might find worthy of some reflection this passage from James Farwell’s This is the Night: Suffering, Salvation, and the Liturgies of Holy Week:
If Christianity is to be any more than an interesting explanatory system for those who enjoy the diversions of metaphysical philosophy, then it must open in us a way to live abundantly in and with our suffering, give us hope, empower us to live with others in their suffering, and discern the difference between the suffering characteristics of human existence and suffering that demands alleviation or resistance. That is, Christianity, as a living faith must sustain and heal human persons as we “suffer” the long journey of a life lived through the ebb and flow of pain and joy, struggle and peace – both in what we bring on ourselves and in what comes to us unbidden. It must also inspire a clear-eyed commitment to address, with neither fear nor judgment, the suffering that arises from the corporate sins of injustice and oppression and the personal sins of the wayward human creature. Christianity must open a way for us to face suffering, not as an anomaly or a momentary obstacle on the way to a place where God will be present to us but as an enduring feature of human life in which God is with us. The practice of Christianity must reveal to us a God who is ultimately concerned for us as creatures who suffer, in in all senses of that term. If God cannot redeem us as sufferers, then either we are beyond redeeming, or redemption is an illusion. If God can redeem us as sufferers, then the soteriological force of Christian practice depends upon its ability to open us to such redemption, and the faithfulness of Christian soteriology – the theology of salvation – depends on its ability to attest to this possibility.
There is a lot to chew on here, both with respect to our own suffering and our obligation to address the suffering of others.
Blessings during this Holy Week.