Wednesday, August 24, 2011

All Grace is Incarnation

Ilya Yefimovich Repin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
"You're sufferning." Todd Hunter said to me across the table at Dick Church's this morning.

Ouch. Yeah, that's it, I'm suffering. It's funny how sometimes when someone puts words to what you're feeling it can have such an impact. Much that I hoped on has been stripped away, people that I care about are in pain. I am suffering. It's not that I'm Job, I still have food on my table, I still have my family and friends who love me, and my body is not covered in boils.

But I am hurting. I am longing to hope, but afraid to in the face of disappointment. So, it's hard to see grace right now, in my life. Friends of mine have pointed to some grace, but it remains hard to see. It's also frightening to point to one thing or another and say, "that's grace." It seemed like grace when I got into Trinity College, it seemed like grace when I couldn't pay for my visa and my church did, it seemed like grace when I found a place to stay in the weeks before I was supposed to move into school. Yet, after all those things, something came up that meant I couldn't go. Of course, that doesn't mean those things weren't grace, it's just hard to see now. Still, I believe God is with me. I believe there is grace.

My aunt sent me a blog post entitled "So all is Grace?" She said it made her think of me, that they were things I might say, though in different words. I think that's true, one or to things aside, and I think it gives at least something of a picture of how I can find comfort now.

In the face of suffering, it's easy to try and explain how it exists in God's world. That's what we in the philosophy world call a theodicy. Yet, as I've said before, theodicies all too often do violence to the reality of human suffering, they strip the raw pain away, abstracting it to an intellectual problem to be solved. Likewise, they often fail pretty miserably at being specifically Christian (or Muslim, or Jewish, etc), relying rather on a generic notion of God that is often far different from the one which has been revealed to us.

I honestly don't know what the reason for suffering is. I believe, ultimately, that God is in control. I believe that He is good. But why do we suffer? Is it because of free will? Perhaps some larger plan? Is it to teach us? To punish?

I don't know. I have my theories, but they're just that -theories, and in the face of real suffering they will always ring hollow.

But there is something that does not ring hollow. God became man. God incarnated Himself into the world of suffering, and in that very same incarnate Self He gave us the first fruits of the New Creation. I know that whatever the reason for suffering is, I can trust the God who stand over that suffering because He was willing to enter into it.

God the Father, in His eternal and unbreakable bond with Christ through the Holy Spirit, is with us in our suffering. And He is making everything new. I don't know why it hasn't come into its fullness yet, but I trust Him, for I once was blind, but now I see.

All is grace. Yes.

And all grace is incarnation.