Why do the innocent suffer? Why are there genetic defects in newborn children? Why have so many died before they had a chance to live? If God is good, why is there so much that seems un-good? The dying one who shouldn’t be dying is always the acid test for our faith. What happens when life doesn’t work? Why did so many die on every side of every war, as 65 years ago today in Nagasaki?
Sooner or later we all have to deal with the issue of unjust suffering, since it exists at every level of creation: substances, plants, animals, and humans—and maybe even God. Could God suffer? Even with us, in us, and through us?
Yes, if Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15)—and God is never more nakedly revealed than on the cross (1 Corinthians 1:2-31)—then we have to admit that our suffering is somehow one with God’s eternal suffering that is birthing the new creation (Romans 8:18-23). We are “making up in our bodies all that still has to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body” (Colossians 1:24).
Richard Rohr, August 2010
We must not minimise to ourselves what Rohr is saying here; whether or not we agree with his conclusion, it is utterly essential that we come to a conclusion for ourselves, faced with the horror of what was done in 1945, and what has been done, somewhere, on every day since. Without facing this, how can we pray?