God is with the suffering

God is with the outsider.

For a long time, gods were emblems of tribes and groups – totems who represented strengths and fears of a community; in wartime they provided a common figurehead to fight under, and in peacetime they provided a common focus for fear and awe – to whom fealty was due to preserve the peace… Such were the nature of the manmade gods.

The God of Abraham and Isaac, the God of Jacob… the one true God himself, is rather different. Even before Jesus Christ walked the earth, God revealed himself to be a defender of the outsider – forgiver of sinners and protector of the widow and orphan; God has always identified with the human outcast and underdog.

Not for nothing are the heroes and patriarchs of the Old Testament taken from those displaced or rejected by human society… from the barren and wandering Sarai and Abraam (later Sarah and Abraham); to the  exiles Jacob and Moses…

King David – the youngest child of a family, not even called in from shepherding to join the family feast – HE is the one chosen by God. And then Jesus… with nothing to commend him physically, he identifies with the sick, the stranger, the despised foreigner, the sinner and the rejected. Of course there is room in his forgiving heart for the social climber and scribe as well – providing they are ready to repent… but it is most clearly the outsider and the oppressed who has the Lord’s heart.

And yet for some wicked, unknown reason – people still don’t get it… it is not enough to sit inside the comfy circle of society and have passing pity on the outsider or the oppressed. If you want to be where God’s heart is – you need to get up and go outside the circle – and identify with the oppressed and rejected, the weak and afflicted.

And right now – in the relentless and largely random bombing of Gaza by heavily armed and fortified Israeli troups…

If you don’t know, or your heart is unmoved to prayer, then search images online  with the phrase “who can save children of Gaza”; I don’t dare post the images of war here – they are too distressing – and might appear merely sensational but I include an image of a sculpture of Christ whose wounds, though neat and clean by comparison,  remind me of the current pain of Palestine.scarred Christ crucified

I don’t know that it will do any good for me to say this – it certainly doesn’t redeem me-  I am not a doctor or a soldier or a politician, so I cannot help in any practical way. I am not advocating violence to overcome violence, or retribution to fight against injustice. Only expressing horror; and praying for peace, and praying too that those who are suffering now, will not do what I would undoubtedly want to do if I were a mother in Palestine – and that is to find someone responsible for the suffering of my children and make them understand, without mercy, what they had done.

I don’t know how God judges – but I have always believed it was with complete truth and simultaneously complete love for humanity… but to see even partial truth and feel even partial love in this case is so painful that I cannot imagine that those in power and responsible for decision-making in Israel right now will escape eternal destruction – I can’t see how, to hold in truth in one’s arms the blackened corpse of a baby, and to feel the reality of its little life, and the reality of a mother’s love – and to have been the one responsible for this and so many other innocent lives needlessly destroyed… I can’t see how one could survive that. Pharoah, Herod, Caesar, Nero, Hitler… the Israeli Security Cabinet…  I really don’t know when I look at these images, will anyone speak in your defence on the Final Day… and, when you finally know and understand fully, just as you are fully known, then will you even WANT them to?


About Jemma

Learning to be both a priest and a human being in the Anglican Church
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