The God Who Suffered

For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, you’ll know that Ilsa passed away Saturday, March 8th.  Thank you, thank you for your continued prayers and support for the Ramos family.   It means so much to them and to all of us here.

It was a beautiful wake and funeral.  She was a beautiful person.  As the oldest of six children, she was very much the second mom to everyone in the family…

It’s so hard to understand why… we were praying so hard for a miracle…

The Monday after her death, her brother and I, along with four amazing university students from the States who were down for Spring Break, went on mission to Ojos de Agua.  It was a mission unlike any other I’ve ever been on.

The first thing we did when we arrived in the town was to visit a girl who’d gone on mission with us in December; her mom had passed away Ash Wednesday.  Every afternoon at 3pm we returned to the house participate with their family, friends, and neighbors in a special novena for her mother’s soul.

Then that same Monday afternoon, we were literally in the opening prayer for our youth program when one of the girls got a phone call saying a man in the community had just died from cancer.  We went to his burial Wednesday morning.

Too, all of our visits this time were with the sick and the elderly.

There’s just so much suffering in the world…and it was such a beautiful  mission, to be able to share in that suffering, but you want to do more than share.  You want so badly to be able to take it all away.  But you can’t.  You can only cry with them and hope together in the promise of the Resurrection.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot these past few weeks, especially as we’ve entered Lent, and the whole problem-of-evil-thing in general.  For reasons that I don’t understand, our all-powerful, loving, and benevolent God permits evil and death and sin and sickness.  It’s one thing, though, to talk about it as philosophical discussion in your theology class.  It’s another to see people you love suffering.

In the end, I don’t know why God says “no” to our prayers.  “No” when we have faith.  “No” when the saints have told us to ask for grand miracles, because that’s what pleases Him most.

But.  I do know that He told His own Son “no” too.  His only, most beloved Son, who begged desperately that the chalice of the cross be taken away… He told Him “no” too.

Moreover, this same Son felt that abandonment and darkness and the pain that comes with feeling that God has rejected your every request.  He experienced that too.

In the end, all of suffering and all of the horror of the cross had to pass, so we could experience new life. But that doesn’t make it any easier in the moment.

So while we wait here for that light of hope, that Easter dawn, we don’t know how God will bring good out of this tragedy… but at the very least we know that we have a God who has suffered with us.  Who loves us enough to want to know the depths of our anguish.  We have a God who has cried with us.


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