“I want to state clearly that it is not just the narratives of Jesus that have helped me, but Jesus himself has carried me along through my grief and doubt. Jesus not only explains suffering, he experienced suffering. He endured the worst kind of alienation...
“I want to state clearly that it is not just the narratives of Jesus that have helped me, but Jesus himself has carried me along through my grief and doubt. Jesus not only explains suffering, he experienced suffering. He endured the worst kind of alienation possible as he hung on the cross, feeling that his Father had forsaken him. When we received the news about our daughter Madeline’s condition, I too felt forsaken by God. Jesus understands.
In his letter to the Galatians Paul wrote this moving narrative: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me”(Galatians 2:19-20).
If you look closely at your Bible when you read this verse, you will probably notice a footnote after the phrase “faith in the Son of God.” The footnote in most modern translations reads, “or can be translated ‘the faith of the Son of God.’ ” This is because it seems to be a more accurate translation, and your Bible translators want to be honest. So why do most translations not read that way? I think it is because we tend to emphasize our faith in Jesus, and are not used to thinking about Jesus’ faith for us.
Jesus said his Father was good. Jesus also refused to affirm the idea that external rewards and punishments are given by God on the basis of our good or bad works. Rain falls on the good and the bad.
Sometimes we pray for rain (for our crops), and sometimes we pray that it will not rain (for our picnics). Both good and bad people get rained on, whether they want it or not. Jesus faced suffering, rejection and alienation, and the people jeered at him as he hung on the cross, questioning whether God was really with him. And Jesus believed. And he believes for me. He believes even when we cannot. He prays even when we cannot. We participate in his faith.
I affirm with Paul that I have been crucified with Christ. I do not understand that mystery, but I know that Jesus is closer to me than I am to myself. Christ lives in me, and I live by his faith. I am not alone. This is something more than simply getting my narratives right. It is allowing Jesus to live in and through and for me. The love of the Father, the redemption of Jesus and the communion I have with the Spirit are not based on anything I do. It is a gift from the Holy Spirit to believe in a God who is good even when things look bleak.”
Reflect – Why is carrying the words of scripture in our hearts and minds so helpful?
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