Caroline Cox sees a lot of suffering in our world – and in the life of Jesus.
I have lots of moments when I have dark times and my faith is deeply, deeply challenged. I remember I’d been in the Killing Fields of South Sudan, walking through corpses strewed along the way, ruthlessly killed by the government of Sudan forces – and women and children. And the last night, I sat outside my tent – there were no buildings, we had to live in tents – and I just wept. And my faith was challenged. And the traditional challenging questions, how is it that a God of love who is omnipotent and omniscient allows these things to happen to the innocent? And I was challenged.
And then, funnily enough, sitting there in 40 degrees heat, for some reason my mind came back to Britain and how we keep Christmas. And the thought occurred to me that, of course, as Christians, we celebrate Christmas – I mean God coming down, born as a baby, to live among us, what a thing to celebrate. But if after Christmas we just have holidays and then New Year’s Eve and New Year – and we forget that not so long after, while Mary was celebrating the birth of her son, Jesus, a lot of other mothers were weeping because Herod had killed their sons. Now you don’t factor that into the equation of Christmas. It’s not surprising that sometimes in the comfortable West we don’t have a theology that can deal with the modern-day Herods.
And then my thought went on to the end of Jesus’ life, when Mary, his mother, had to stand at the foot of the cross and see her son dying in anguish. And just to be there with love and pain and, well, agony. And the thought occurred to me that maybe part of a Christian’s calling must be to attend whatever Calvaries our Lord may call us to attend. They may not be in Sudan, they can be down the road – but to be there in those places of the darkest suffering. And then maybe, at the foot of the cross, feeling like Mary did with that anguish and that pain as her son died, to find in that cross some meaning, some ultimate meaning of purpose and hope.