I’ve been fighting back the tears all day. Even though he died as a man, all I can pull up in my memory is a little blond-headed boy with a smile that would light up any room ... and a father, much like Dickens’ character Bob Cratchit, who loved his son dearly no matter what he was going through. When I was young I had heroes that were superhuman. Now, my heroes are people like this young man and his father. I don’t mention their names because I don’t have permission, but I have to say that my heart is heavier today than it has been in a long time and across the hundreds of miles my prayers are with the siblings and parents.
When I think about God sending His beloved Son to redeem a world that would reject Him, betray Him, deny Him, beat Him, mock Him, and eventually murder Him, I cannot wrap my mind around that kind of selfless love. The writer of Hebrews talks about the Son’s love in that He went to the cross and endured the suffering and shame “for the joy set before Him.” (Heb. 12:2). Over the years many have speculated about what the future joy was that got Jesus through the suffering of the crucifixion. Today, I choose to believe that at least in part, it was the joy of defeating every death, disease, injustice and every other thing in this present world that is not in line with the will of God. Today, I choose to believe that at least part of the joy set before Jesus that kept Him motivated to finish the work was this young man who is now in His presence and completely whole. Though my heart is sad today, thank you Lord for paying the price to turn our present sorrows to future joy.
Atheists often ridicule theists to for ignoring the problem of pain, suffering, and injustice in this world. That is a false claim. Terence Penelhum says “Theists do not see fewer evils in the world than atheists; they see more. For the theist, in believing in God, believes both that God created the world and that much that is in the world is deeply deficient in the light of the very standards God himself embodies."
C.S. Lewis used the allegorical character Aslan the lion to represent the compassionate Christ in the Chronicles of Narnia children’s books. In one book in that series, The Magician’s Nephew, Lewis has the young man Digory facing a dilemma that eventually leads him to plead with the powerful Aslan for his mother’s healing: "But please, please–won’t you—can’t you give more something that will cure Mother?” Up till then he had been looking on the Lion’s great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) such great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.
In the account of Lazarus’ death in John 11:32-35, The Message reads Mary came to where Jesus was waiting and fell at his feet, saying, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep anger welled up within him. He said, “Where did you put him?” “Master, come and see,” they said. Now Jesus wept.
We have a loving, God who knows what pain feels like and is “touched by the feelings of our infirmities, comforts all that mourn, and binds up the brokenhearted. It makes me want to echo the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us every one.”