I am reading through a short book by Nicholas Wolterstorf called Lament for a Son. Nicholas Wolterstorf, a Christian philosopher, lost his 25 year old son and this book is a record of his transparent grieving. I am so appreciative of his honest wrestlings of life, death and suffering. It is a book that puts words to grief–and in it I find my heart that I am unable to express at this time.
Page 89-90 speaks of suffering—suffering, a word, a feeling, a lifestyle. Suffering, is something I am constantly pressing into and wrestling within these past years. I love his words on suffering below. His words spoke to my soul. Love and suffering-they are one.
“What is suffering? When something prized or loved is ripped away or never granted – work, someone loved, recognition of one’s dignity, life without physical pain – that is suffering.
Or rather, that’s when suffering happens. What it is, I do not know. For many days I had been reflecting on it. Then suddenly, as I watched the flicker of orange-pink evening light on almost still water, the thought overwhelmed me: I know nothing of it. Of pain, yes: cut fingers, broken bones. Of sorrow and suffering, nothing at all. Suffering is a mystery as deep as any in our existence. It is not of course a mystery whose reality some doubt. Suffering keeps its face hid from each while making itself known to all.
We are one in suffering. Some are wealthy, some bright, some athletic, some admired. But we all suffer. For we all prize and love; and in this present existence of ours, prizing and loving yield suffering. Love in our world is suffering love. Some do not suffer much though, for they do not love much. Suffering is for the loving. If I hadn’t loved him, there wouldn’t be this agony.
This said Jesus, is the command of the Holy One, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In commanding us to love, God invites us to suffer.
God is love. That is why he suffers. To love our suffering sinful world is to suffer. God so suffered for the world that he gave up his only Son to suffering. The one who does not see God’s suffering does not see his love. God is suffering love.
So suffering is down at the center of things, deep down where the meaning is. Suffering is the meaning of our world. For love is the meaning. And love suffers. The tears of God are the meaning of history.
But the mystery remains. Why isn’t Love-without suffering the meaning of things? Why is suffering-Love the meaning? Why does God endure his suffering? Why does he not at once relieve his agony by relieving ours?”
I love how he puts it, “Every lament, after all, is a love-song. Will love-songs one day no longer be laments?”