Thoughts on Suffering

I had a thought several years ago that suffering is a way to deepen the wells of love and joy that we can give the world. Of course, our ultimate example is the cross of Christ. Whereas, before the cross, we were enemies in our own mind against God, believing that he was against us. After the cross, we see the passionate unveiling of that lie as his very life source was poured out.

Most of Christendom reduces the Cross to a legal exchange. My sin <–> His blood. While that is true, it is first and foremost about revealing our true identity as his children and that he never saw us as separate from him.

While I do not believe that Christ makes us suffer, it cannot be avoided. Usually, it is not until we have experienced a hardship that we can truly be empathetic for those in that place. In turn, we are more responsive to love when it comes from someone who can truly empathize with us.

It’s the drug addict that can fully empathize with another drug addict. It’s the assault victim that can fully empathize with another assault victim. It’s the sick person that can fully empathize with another sick person. But the beauty of the Cross and His precious blood is that our empathy, our love that comes from our own wounds, has power to break those chains. We are not stuck there. We can be free.

The Lady and the Dragon

Our stories got it wrong for so many millennia.  The knight in shining armor, the damsel in distress, the happily ever after…  They got it half right.

He wasn’t saving a helpless damsel.  He was awakening a warrior.  She was only helpless in her own mind.  Punching at shadows and echoes which had taken on corporeal form in this desolate cavern.

This enemy, The Dragon, knows she is stronger than every imagining.  Her only equal being The Knight himself.  A direct attack would have been foolish.  He knew the only way to defeat her was to attack her foundation.  He warped her sense of space and time.

Instead of wondering at the vast fractals and geometries of the many dimensions of the multiverse, she only saw the walls in front of her.  Her mind tried to recreate the vastness she remembered.  But with only shadows to inspire her, she quickly became terrified.  Instead of marveling at the infinite frequencies and harmonies of the spheres, she was left with silence.  Her ears trying to pull sound out of the dead rocks at her feet.

The tapestry of time became a single, dull thread stretched out.  Her memories of jumping through the different weaves of causality had become a simple chronological march.  One moment same as the last.  Never getting further in her cause.

The Knight entered the dragon’s den in search of his Bride.  He stripped himself of the various geometries and harmonies of his person to enter this cavern.  The darkness bright and the silence a cacophony, he entered in search of the one for whom his heart hungers.

He found her half dead in a squalid pool of muck.  He quietly whispered, “My love, let’s go home!”

Her cry filled the entirety of the light years that made up the cavern.  Her shriek cut to the savior’s bone.  She tried to run but her limbs feebly kicked against him.

“My love, let’s go home!”

Her cry.  Her fear.  Reverberated through every quantum string of the cavern.

“You’re the dragon!”

“No, my love!”

“All I have known is The Dragon.  There is none other than The Dragon.  I am The Dragon!”

“He is a liar!”

With that, he reached into his satchel and pulled out a cloak.  A cloak which contained the vast fractal and hyperbolic geometries and multiversal causalities and hyperphonic harmonies that he stripped off of himself when he entered the cavern.  He draped this cloak around her corpse.

“Arise, my love, see, the winter is gone!”

Her lungs filled with celestial energy.  Radiant light filled her limbs.  She rose with fury in her eyes.  A sword appeared at her side.  She unsheathed her weapon and plunged it into the ground.

At once, the cavern trembled.  Slow at first but quickened its pace.

“Yes, my beloved, the winter is gone!  Let’s run!”

The quaking was followed by fire.  The Dragon was angry as he knew he only had a short time.  However, he did not have the advantage of the celestial geometries to give chase.  And so the Knight and his Lover easily escaped The Dragon.

Slave to Bride

From slave to bride
I am bought with a price.
No longer nameless.
No longer without a family.

From servant to princess.
I have an inheritance without measure.
No longer without power.
No longer without authority.

From trespasser to priest.
Love without ceasing.
No longer without access.
No longer without intimacy.

This is destiny.
This is fate.
Take it by force.
Or be overtaken.

Rest

In the beginning of Batman vs. Superman, Lois Lane is being held by a group of militants. When the base is attacked, a militant grabs her in a headlock and puts a gun to her head. It is at that moment that Superman appears.

She looks into his eyes and does something amazing. With a nod and a smile, she lets go of the militant. The militant who has a gun to her head. And who has a death grip on her. She lets go!

Why? Because Superman can’t take him out while she’s still attached to him. If she held on, she would have been dragged with him or otherwise hurt.
I’ve been wrestling myself lately. I’ve been wrestling with extreme emotions and suicidal thoughts. I’ve been crying constantly. I feel like I’m in a death grip myself with depression. And it wants to end this battle shortly.

I popped this movie in the other day and this scene grabbed me. It’s a departure from the classic damsel in distress narrative. Most of the time, the “damsel” is portrayed as a panicky waif. She is no more than set dressing to tell the hero’s story or to show his strength. In real life, these damsels actually hinder any efforts to save them through their panic.

Watching this scene, I was reminded of Jesus’ words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28, 30) In the new DC cinematic universe, Lois Lane knows full well who Superman is and has a relationship with him. She trusts him. Lois Lane is no longer a panicky waif. It’s no longer “fight or flight”. She has a third option and that is rest. We tend to think of rest as a passive action. We see here that it is much the opposite. It is a conscious decision to let go in spite of the fear, in spite of the anger, anxiety, and depression that you feel.

It also means no longer identifying with those things. By letting go, she is saying that this battle is already over. She is saying that these things have no control over her.

Just as in real life, this doesn’t mean that trouble doesn’t exist or won’t find you. It just means you now have a third option for dealing with these things.

So This Is Love

So this is love,
So this is love.
So this is what makes life divine.
I’m all aglow,
And now I know
The key to all heaven is mine.
My heart has wings,
And I can fly.
I’ll touch ev’ry star in the sky.
So this is the miracle that I’ve been dreaming of.
So this is love.

I love this short little song from Disney’s Cinderella.  There is so much truth packed into it.  God, as Love, invades our lives and transforms them.  We now have access to the highest of the Heavens.  We have access to his riches and his grace.

Imagine Dragons – Radioactive

I’m waking up to ash and dust

I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I’m breathing in the chemicalsI’m breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse
Whoa

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive

I raise my flags, don my clothes
It’s a revolution, I suppose
We’ll paint it red to fit right in
Whoa

I’m breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse
Whoa

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive

All systems go, the sun hasn’t died
Deep in my bones, straight from inside

I’m waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my systems blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Welcome to the new age, to the new age
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive
Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I’m radioactive, radioactive

I love the song.  I love the video even more.

A villianous Lou Diamond Phillips is running a fight club for stuffed animals.  His stuffed animal beats everyone else’s every time.  He’s the champ and will always be the champ.  He’s gruff, he’s rude, and he’s mean.

Nobody can challenge him.  That is, until an unnamed girl walks in with a teddy bear.  This meek and mild teddy bear takes punch after kick after punch until finally he’s knocked out.  He’s dead.  LDP is about to call another victory when the teddy bear stands up and shoots lasers out of it paws.  The lasers wipe out the mean old stuffed monster and several of the onlookers who try to fight him themselves.  In the confusion, the girl takes the key from LDP and he is thrown in the pit with the other stuffed animals.

This reminds me of that old Carmen song where Jesus and Satan are boxing it out.  Jesus is KO’d but rises right before the countdown is finished and KO’s Satan.  It is just like Jesus to use a teenage girl and teddy bear to stop ultimate evil.  I love how, at the very end, the girl takes the key to the pit from LDP’s neck and sets free the prisoners.  Isaiah 61 prophecies this part of Jesus’ ministry, that he would free the prisoners and set the captives free.

Who’s Your Daddy?

One of the main questions that philosophy seeks to answer is, “Where do you come from?” God has been talking to me about my origins these past two weeks and it really tied a lot of things together for me. I’m sure philosophy has some really interesting answers but here’s mine.

The four Gospels were written by four very different men. If you’ve peaked at the first Gospel, Matthew, you’re probably wondered what the deal is with all the “begats”. Well, from what I know about the culture of the day, your origins were very important. They determined what your station in life was and who would listen to you. Both Matthew and Luke, the 3rd Gospel, give a genealogy of Jesus Christ. However, they are different.

Matthew traces Jesus’ lineage back to Abraham. Matthew wanted people to know that Jesus was a Jew and also heir to the throne. Luke, who was a doctor, traced Jesus’ lineage back aaaaallllll the way back to Adam. Luke wanted people to know that Jesus was a human man, the Son of Man. It is believed that Luke’s genealogy traces Mary’s family history because Joseph wasn’t the biological father of Jesus.

What about Mark, the 2nd Gospel? He wanted people to see the suffering servant side of Jesus. Nobody cares about the family history of a servant. So Mark doesn’t bother with a genealogy.

Then that leaves John, the 4th Gospel. At first glance, you’d think that he left out a genealogy as well. You see, John wanted people to know that Jesus was the son of God. Where does God have his origin? In God! Now read the first couple verses:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
John 1:1‭-‬4, emphasis added

John’s genealogy is pretty simple. Jesus came from God. But what else came from God, according to John? We did!!!

If you think you’re a result of your parent’s decision on prom night, you are very mistaken. You’re a result of the conscious direction and will of God. God does not make accidents. You may have even been conceived out of rape but your true origin is in Jesus Christ. That’s far, far greater news.

I was talking with a friend the other day. He’s feeling a lot of condemnation from his family. He’s trying to better himself but his family only sees and remembers the bad. I think sometimes we have to choose which family we’ll follow. Not all the time but sometimes. That doesn’t mean disowning them*, cursing them, or holding onto unforgiveness, it simply means choosing a different path than they showed you.

*Sometimes, going “no-contact” is the only sane and healthy choice with an extremely narcissistic family or family member. It’s never easy so really pray about this option before going through with it. God will give you the grace to handle it.

There’s a proverb that says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6

This is all fine and good if your parents or guardians started you off on the right path. A lot of us, however, were not and now we’re seemingly stuck on a dead end road. It is a scientific fact that that our brains grow more in the first few years of life than the rest of our life combined. This is when we need to recognize our origin and possibly switch paths. And God gives us Grace to do it through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37

Again, this is not about disowning family or breaking up families. Far from it! He’s calling us to or true origin. Whose heritage will you identify with? Whose heritage will you manifest? Are you descended from your natural father and mother? Or are you descended from Jesus? Jesus was all about his father in heaven. I’ve posted on this before. When Jesus was tempted, he never said he couldn’t do those things. He refused to do them because His Father had not requested it. The temptation wasn’t all the kingdoms of the world at his disposal, they’re already HIS!!! The temptation of Jesus Christ was to convince Him to do something independent of His Father in Heaven!!!

Just as you have DNA from your parents, you have inherited spiritual DNA from your Heavenly Father. And you are the spitting image of Him!!!! When the Father looks at you, he sees Jesus. You might need a bit of a polish now and then but He sees Himself.

Here’s the issue: Nobody has a problem believing Adam gave sin to all but hardly anyone believes Jesus brought holiness and righteousness to all. Sure, you may have inherited a disease from your parents or a bad personality trait or a predilection to addiction. It’s easy to see what you’ve inherited from your natural family. Almost no one wants to see what they have inherited from their spiritual family.

It’s like that scene in Ever After. Danielle had been secretly meeting Prince Henry for romantic rendezvous’. She had been using her mother’s name because her mother was a noble. Danielle makes it to the ball, only for her stepmother to out her as a servant in front of the prince. Her stepmother literally rips her wings off. Prince Henry, being human, is understandably upset. The same happens in Heaven. Satan continually tries to “out” us as fake. “She’s not really yours. She’s been my servant for 20/30/40 years.” Jesus, however, knows the truth. He says, “No, you’re wrong. She’s been my child since before the beginning of time. She may have glanced your way a time or two but she’s mine.”

So what we need to do is change our identity. In Genesis 17, God makes his covenant with Abram.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty ; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”  Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.” Genesis 17:1‭-‬5, emphasis added

At first, it seems God is giving an impossible command. Walk before me and be blameless. But what happens after that? Abram gets an identity change! He’s no longer Abram but Abraham. Sarai is now Sarah. Both their names get an extra “ha” like a breath of air or even laughter. Air or laughter is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. They now have a name that reflects their origin in God. Now the command is not so impossible. If God is faithful and blameless, then so are we!!!

Such. Good. News!!!!!