The other day Madison Bella (Holly) went through a really tough experience that left her raw and frustrated and questioning. I think we’ve all been through those moments; I know that I have in the last year many times. Holly, I hope you don’t mind, but you sparked something in me with your comments that I thought might be worth exploring.
Back in December John Piper spoke at Matt Chandler’s church, shortly after Chandler had been diagnosed with brain cancer. Piper did not explain away the suffering, or the frustration we have, but he did point something out that I have been trying to allow to take root in my thinking.
Holly’s response to the loss of her dog, after many losses of other people and animals in her life, was to exclaim the pain and the frustration of these losses. I’ve had the same reaction (hear me, please, that I’m not coming down on Holly….I’m relating to what she said and at the same time turning my understanding with the pricking of Piper’s teaching.).
Our response is that this is not the way things should be. We are often surprised by suffering, and are uncomfortable with and think it is not how things should be.
The challenge I am sitting with….uncomfortably….is that we do not understand the suffering and pain and decay of creation because we do not understand the severity of sin.
I’ll rephrase that. I do not understand the severity of sin.
I do not immediately think of the enormous weight of sin when I face suffering. I usually think that the suffering is uncomfortable and how do I get around it.
Piper, in his teaching at Chandler’s church, focused on Romans 8 and how the world has been subjected to frustration in hope.
I have a really hard time getting that truth to sit still in me long enough to absorb.
Creation was subjected to frustration.
And “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”
I’ve been trying to take this in with the flood. The enormity of the flood, the destruction….is because of sin. Not some bogus judgment, but the mark of sin on creation.
Sin is so severe, so vast, that the suffering we cry out under…and that creation cries out under…is necessary to procure our freedom.
I think I should have an existence that is relatively comfortable and marked by a sense of justice in my interactions.
Instead, Piper has put a seed in my thinking that builds on all the other teachings I’ve heard….that I need to feel and see that it is not God being unfair, but see the severity of the mark of sin on our creation and ourselves.
That the suffering around us, in us and on us is in the end justified in judging sin because sin is so severe. When we do ultimately walk in the glorious freedom and creation is liberated from its bondage to decay….we will see that the price was worth it.
For now, I find that I take my sin remarkably lightly in light of the impact that even my sin has played in the decay of creation and the suffering we walk in. We are walking in a fallen world, with wonderful life-giving invasions of hope and glory. Still, when loss pains us so deeply that we want to cry out in anger or give up….maybe some of that deep pain is awareness that our sin impacts God this deeply.
I’m still working this out in my thinking and in my heart, and again this is in no way saying that Holly shouldn’t have felt the way she did…..instead it is saying that she should feel precisely that way as we all should when there is suffering that seems without reason. There is a reason, and the weight of the severity of sin should make the Cross all the sweeter and stronger.