Recently I was engaged in a conversation with friends about suffering and the cause of such suffering. We bantered back and forth. What was clear is that some people think God causes the hardship. Others think hardship is a result of sin. The one thing we could agree on is that, in hardship, God works through it, and we are shaped and molded to be renewed to live into a fuller, more glowing, version of our self.
The entirety of the conversation made me think critically about who we say God is, what God does, and how God behaves. I struggle with this just a bit, because I know, that due to sin, I can only see so far. For me the bible and the language inside is like a never ending onion. A person can keep pealing and pealing, and with each peal being released another aspect of God is found. If we only look at the surface of the things then our God is very superficial, but if we dig around and start pulling at the layers, God actually reveals God self in very profound and amazing ways, leaving us with feelings of great joy for the discovery, or leave us feeling challenged. I am quite convienced that while I think I know a great deal about who I believe God to be, the truth is I will never know everything about who God is.
Paul says in the 2 Corinthians 3: – “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[d] the Lord’s glory,are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Yes, we do have a great hope, and because we know who Christ is we can see more clearly. But I also think that sin acts as a veil keeping us from seeing what we ought. Hence, why I confess that I believe I will never fully understand the entirety of who God is for me, at least in this human form. In the recognition that sin veils me from full understanding, I am gladdened to the core of my heart to know, that because of who Christ is, God breaks through the veil to reveal God’s self to me, to us. We become the onion. God pulls apart the layers of the sin that keep us from seeing, and shows us with each layer removed, just how intense God’s compassion, mercy, forgiveness, and love is for each of us. God breaks through the places of hardship, God breaks through the places of strife, God breaks through the dark places of our life, to be the shimmer of light in our despair, until, such time, all despair is removed and only light remains.
This my friends is the in breaking of God, God working through the activities of our lives, and, yes, most definitely in the places that are yucky and hard. Pealing us like onions, so that we can shine with joy.
“This is how much God loved the world; He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed. [remember sin destroys] by believing in him anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point and accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” (John 3:16-17)