If you have children, you might recognise what I am going to describe. You get jolted out of the serenity of whatever it was you were doing to the sound of screaming. Proper, raw, screams of anguish, pain. As you leap to your feet and rush to the sounds you find a child lying there in pain, lashing out, screaming.
And you know, you can’t pick them up, so you crouch down and fold your arms around them, absorbing their kicking and screaming. And you don’t try to tell them it will be ok, because to do so would be insulting.
You just hold them, you just speak love. You feel their pain.
Sometimes, this happens, only its not a child at the centre of the story.
Sometimes, things happen and we fall to the ground, crumpled in pain, anger boiling, confusion, rage, turmoil.
When one part of the body hurts, we all hurt, when one bit is broken, the whole body is broken.
When one part screams with pain, confusion, hurt, suffering and hopelessness
we feel it
and to try to diminish what is happen with ‘helpful’ words; with ‘it will be okay’ would be like dragging that bleeding wounded friend through gravel. All we can do is crouch down, and be present. Think of Jesus dying that slow, painful death. Would you have said ‘it will be okay’? Of course not (although in hindsight we might see things differently, but that still did not make it OK). All we can do is cry out as we see this broken world.
When all we can do is scream (sometimes silent) rage, when we feel so broken, when we lash out, trying to make sense, when we feel so utterly broken, we don’t need a God (or his representatives) telling us it will be okay, we need a God who is prepared to crouch down beside us, who can hold our arms, our legs, who can absorb our pounding fists, our sobbing hearts and who can say to us ‘I know this makes no sense, it just is, it is so painful but I am here and I feel it too’
NB: I just want to say that this post has come from my heart and is a response to the stuff swimming around in my head as I ran this evening. Please do not construct my use of words such as ‘hitting’ ‘lashing out’ as an endorsement of any kind of physical violence. Violence never has been and never will be acceptable, I use the terms purely in a metaphorical sense.