“Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
“A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.”
-like Simon, can we carry some of the burden with our suffering Lord?
-is He asking us to help carry the burden of another’s suffering?
-can we look over and see the face of our radiant Lord and journey beside him?
Sorrow was beautiful, but her beauty was the beauty of the moonlight shining through the leafy branches of the trees in the wood, and making little pools of silver here and there on the soft green moss below. When Sorrow sang, her notes were like the low sweet call of the nightingale, and in her eyes was the unexpected gaze of one who has ceased to look for coming gladness. She could weep in tender sympathy with those who weep, but to rejoice with those who rejoice was unknown to her.
Joy was beautiful, too, but his was the radiant beauty of the summer mornings. His eyes still held the glad laughter of childhood, and his hair had the glint of the sunshine’s kiss. When Joy sang his voice soared upward as the lark’s and his step was the step of a conqueror who has never known defeat. He could rejoice with all who rejoice but to weep with those who weep was unknown to him.
“But we can never be united,” said Sorrow wistfully. “No, never.” And Joy’s eyes shadowed as he spoke. “My path lies through the sunlit meadows, the sweetest roses await my coming to pour forth their most joyous lays.”
“My path, “ said Sorrow, turning slowly away, “leads through the darkening woods, with moon-flowers only shall my hands be filled. Yet the sweetest of all earth-songs–the love song of the night shall be mine; farewell, Joy, farewell.”
Even as she spoke they became conscious of a form standing beside them; dimly seen, but of a Kingly Presence, and a great and holy awe stole over them as they sank on their knees before Him.
“I see Him as the King of Joy,” whispered Sorrow, “for on His head are many crowns, and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great victory. Before Him all my sorrow is melting away into deathless love and gladness, and I give myself to Him forever.”
“Nay, Sorrow,” said Joy softly, “but I see Him as the King of Sorrow, and the crown on His head is a crown of thorns and the nail prints in His hands and feet are the scars of a great agony. I, too, give myself to Him forever, for sorrow with Him must be sweeter than any joy that I have known.”
“Then we are one in Him,” they cried in gladness, “for none but He can unite Joy and Sorrow.” Hand in hand they passed out into the world to follow Him through storm and sunshine, in the bleakness of winter cold and the warmth of summer gladness, “as sorrowful yet always rejoicing.”
-Taken from Streams in the Desert
Mrs. Charles E. Cowman
You whose birth broke all the social and biological rules—
son of the poor who accepted
the worship due a king—
child prodigy debating with
the Temple Th.D.’s—you
were the kind who used
a new math
to multiply bread, fish, faith.
You practiced a
rehabilitated con men and
call girls, you valued women and other minority groups.
a GP, you specialized in
seeker, seer, motive-sifter,
you were always beyond,
above us. Ahead
of your time, and ours.
And we would like
to be like you. Bold
as Boanerges, we hear ourselves
demand: ‘Admit us
to your avant-garde.
Grant us degree
in all the liberal arts of heaven.”
Why our belligerence?
Why does this whiff of fame
and greatness smell so sweet?
Why must we compete
to be first? Have we forgotten
how you took simply cool water
and a towel for our feet?
At the end of time, billions of people were scattered on a great plain before God’s throne. Most shrank back from the brilliant light before them. But some groups near the front talked heatedly – not with cringing shame, but with belligerence.
“Can God judge us? How can he know about suffering?” snapped a pert brunette. She ripped open a sleeve to reveal a tattooed number from a Nazi concentration camp. “We endured terror…beatings…torture..death!”
In another group a black man lowered his collar. “What about this?” he demanded, showing an ugly rope burn. “Lynched..for no crime but being black!!
In another crowd, a pregnant schoolgirl with sullen eyes. “Why should I suffer?”, she murmured, “It wasn’t my fault.”
Far out across the plain there were hundreds of such groups. Each had a complaint against God for the evil and suffering he permitted in his world. How lucky God was to live in heaven where all was sweetness and light, where there was no weeping or fear, no hunger or hatred. What did God know of all that man had been forced to endure in this world? For God leads a pretty sheltered life, they said.
So each of these groups sent forth their leader, chosen because he had suffered most. A Jew, a black, a person form Hiroshima, a horribly deformed arthritic, a thalidomide child. In the centre of the plain they consulted with each other. At last they were ready to present their case. It was rather clever.
Before God could be qualified to be their judge, he must endure what they had endured. Their decision was that God should be sentenced to live one earth – as a man!
“Let him be born a Jew. Let the legitimacy of his birth be doubted. Give him a work so difficult that even his family will think him out of his mind when he tries to do it. Let him be betrayed by his closest friends. Let him face false charges, be tried by a prejudiced jury and convicted by a cowardly judge. Let him be tortured.
“At the last, let him see what it means to be terribly alone. Then let him die. Let him die so that there can be no doubt that he died. Let there be a great host of witnesses to verify it.
“As each leader announced his portion of the sentence, loud murmurs of approval went up from the throng of people assembled.
“And when the last had finished pronouncing sentence, there was a long silence. No one uttered another word. No-one moved. For suddenly all knew that God had already served his sentence.”
-playlet found in John Stott’s The Cross of Christ
High noon in the valley of the shadow
When the deep of the valley was bright
When the mouth of the tomb shouted,
“Glory, the groom is alive”
So long, you wages of sin go on,
Don’t you come back again
I’ve been raised and redeemed;
You’ve lost all your sting
To the victor of the battle at
High noon in the valley
In the valley of the shadow
-Andrew Peterson, High Noon
‘He has set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.’