Why didn’t God just let Jesus show us how to be fully human and reconcile us to Godself without Jesus suffering on the Cross? Why didn’t God just make it so that humans never fell anyway? Was the love incomplete between God and Adam and Eve before they took the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Why is there suffering?
Job asks God why there is undeserved suffering. All of Job’s friends’ theological answers God declares untrue. Their answers are an all-too-human attempt to give an easy meaning to suffering. To them, it was either Job’s fault because of sin known, unknown, or unacknowledged (see Job 4 and 11), or there was some lesson to be learned from the suffering, or that we are not wise enough to know (Job 8), or that Job sinned without knowing (Job 18), or that God’s justice is simply indiscernible to us (Job 34). Job defends himself as in the right despite all of these; he claims his suffering is undeserved, more than that, God shows up and declares all these arguments are untrue and that Job was right about God (Job 42:7). Job never learns about the wager between God and the Satan.
Making meaning of undeserved suffering and assigning blame is a dangerous game. Now we must look to the Cross in this season of Lent. On Golgotha, God suffers with us. George MacDonald in The Hope of the Gospel says that part of the hope is that, through the Cross, God can redeem our suffering by making it like God’s. Struggle is now part of the Divine Life in the Trinity.
In a culture of “fun-hogs,” and the implicit demands of social media, this means we are precisely allowed not to enjoy. Traditionally Lent is a season of struggling with oneself. Now as we are forced by an unprecedented form of struggle against a new threat, we are allowed to embrace the Way of the Cross. We are free from the pursuit of happiness to love others as Christ loves. From this path comes the fruit of the Spirit in our lives and the life of our community.
Stefan Seeling, student ministries director