There is nothing worse than seeing the person you love most in the world in pain and torment. I remember when I was a child seeing my Dad in the depths of depression and just wishing with all my heart that I could make the hurting stop. I felt so utterly powerless and yet knew that somehow by just being there I was helping. I was at least in it with him and was a witness to the rawness of his grief and despair. The worst of times as a parent is seeing your child in pain, whether that is physical or emotional, and knowing that you cannot do anything to take it away. You do not have the power and sometimes it is actually right to let them experience the consequences of mistakes or deliberate wrong choices in order to save them from worse later on. It is in this context that I have been meditating on the verse, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but may have eternal life.”
I have spent a good deal of my Christian life railing against God for my own suffering and those of others and yet in this one verse is the ultimate statement of His death-defying love and all-consuming power to intervene to relieve our misery and hopelessness. Perhaps rather than being sidetracked by the ‘cosmic child abuse’ lens to Christ’s death on the cross, we should focus on the depths of God’s love and His willingness to take responsibility for all that is wrong with this life by dealing with it personally and decisively, once and for all. We may not enjoy the fullness of this now, but one day the full magnitude of it will hit us like a train and we will spend eternity marvelling at its enormity. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there will be the usual hollow and often obscene pronouncements of love which can cause us to despair at the shallowness and baseness of humanity. But maybe it should actually just reveal to us with greater and truer clarity the One who is love and faithfulness and be motivated to more faithfully embody and demonstrate His love and goodness to others.