I have some grasp of the truth that God is “other” than we are though I know I’m a long way behind others in understanding that. I know we’re not to waste our time pitying God—He doesn’t need our pity!!!! But should His omnipotence be an excuse for our heartlessness, if we are that? I know we can grieve Him (the Holy Bible says so) but I’m unsure how far I’m to take that speech but I know He rejoices over us (Luke 15). I’m not sure how “human” God is but I do remember Jesus paralleling His Father’s response to a loving human father and I remember (in the Old Testament) that God likens Himself to a mother, a father and a husband and in the NT Jesus, the image of God, likens Himself to a mother hen loving her babies. Somewhere in all this I think we’re supposed to acknowledge that God and we are alike (there’s room in here for discussion on “the image of God,” isn’t there?).
I recall the protest of John Stuart Mill against religious double-talk that included saying God was “good” but then insisting that “good” doesn’t mean relative to God what it means when we use it of people. Granted that we need to be careful and that the word “good” might be used of some things that a closer examination shows aren’t good. Granted that, Mill was certainly right to say that he would not call God “good” if it didn’t mean what it normally meant when it was used of a good woman or man. For why would we praise God for being “good” if good has no real meaning? Mill (a bit pompously) went on to say that if he is sent to hell for that, “then to hell I will go.”
With all of that and my uncertainty as background, I can’t help thinking God must be the greatest sufferer in the universe. But even great human sufferers can and do go on gallantly though they suffer greatly so I’m certain God could do that!
Two people spoke to each other in whispers, pouring out their hearts to each other, in all sincerity, telling one another that the day began with thoughts of each other and ended the same way. They committed themselves to one another for all their lives, wrapped their souls around each other so that it became hard to tell where one began and the other ended. Their first thought when they opened their eyes in the morning was that he or she was in the world so whatever happened, at least they’d experience it together. When something funny happened she couldn’t wait to tell him and hear him laugh, as she knew he would. And no pleasure was fully a pleasure to him until she had the chance to share in it because, as the poet said, “everything is nuthin’ if you’ve got no one.”
Then he (or she) began to change, slowly at first, but with increasing speed, until to his horror she had become a perfect stranger! And in all the agony of the agony what especially grieves the one still in love is this: the other thinks this is a lovely world without him/her. How can it be? How can it be that now he might as well not exist? How can she smile, rejoice, sing, eat with pleasure, spend time with others in familiar places without a thought of him? How can it be that any thought of him causes not even an emotional ripple in her or that the sight of him prompts only a casual nod (and it’s the more agonizing precisely because it is casual)—how can that be? Birthdays, anniversaries, favorite places, music….’unremembered,’ and now new ones created and enjoyed with someone else!?
What a grievous wrong it is to speak and behave and promise and smile in such ways that we become entangled in the heartstrings of another only to tear ourselves away. How callous it is to make the sun shine for a person and then to blot it out just so we can make it shine for someone else while the one we’re now done with sobs his or her heart out in a sunless world.
Will he or she get over it? Should they get over it? Those questions are not my concern at this moment. I just want to know if her pain is deep? Has the soul been shredded? Has the heart been broken? And, my real and ultimate question is: Does God, whose love is infinitely purer and deeper than ours, experience anything!!! like that in His life with His fickle children? We know God is infinitely pure, holy and powerful. Is He also gallant beyond imagining as He carries His heartache? Is the Holy Father, the ultimate sufferer, because He is the ultimate Lover, when He knows that we think this is a lovely world without Him?
Is this part of what Christ is telling us when He sits on a hill overlooking Jerusalem, sobbing and saying, “How often I would have gathered your children like a hen gathers her chickens under her wings and you wouldn’t”? Clearly He grieves over their present and coming loss but why does He grieve?
Why doesn’t He shrug and say, “Well, I warned you. You asked for it and you’re going to get it”? Why doesn’t He say something like that and stroll of with a glance (so to speak) at his watch and hurry to catch a bus to an early evening supper he agreed to?
Can God just wad up a nation like a crumpled page and drop it in the wastebasket the way we seem to be able to do with individuals and even with little nations?
Or is Christ alone on a hill, chest heaving, eyes streaming and heart breaking a true image of the Godself? Does God choose to live in omnipotent ‘weakness’? Is what we see in God being a human anything like Him before He became human?
I’m not sure if this is orthodox or not, but I feel a bit sorry for the gallant God who has shown Himself in and as Jesus of Nazareth!