Posted by: Mark Nielsen | April 28, 2017

We Take It Apart, Then God Rebuilds

.   .   .

From Fr. Richard Rohr:

“God is in some very real way suffering. God is not watching it, but in it! Did your church ever tell you that? How else can we understand the revelation of the cross and that our central Christian image is a naked, bleeding, suffering man? Christians strangely worship a suffering God, largely without realizing it; and Christian mystics even say that there is only one cosmic suffering, and we all share in it, as Paul also seems to intuit (Colossians 1:24).”

  • “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” (Col. 1:24, NIV)

… … …

My Marking Time Meditation, reflecting on the above:

There is always suffering (or struggle, or work, if we want to be modern or existential about it), and with it there is love, which always leads to progress (if not always to unqualified joy or complete, immediate success).

We (or perhaps sin, or False Self, or Ego) are the cause of that suffering, either our own suffering or that of others–usually both.

God does not cause the suffering, but God does see and feel and even inhabit it. Sometimes God even heals the wounds that suffering has caused.

To counteract suffering, we get grace, gifts (both material and spiritual), and the compassion of a Creator and divine parent. All of these and more are available to every human, regardless of religion, geography, or economics. But it is we who refuse such gifts. Or we buy and sell them, commodifying what was always supposed to be free, denying them to many people, thus prolonging or increasing their suffering. We take the gifts apart, we devalue them, we ignore them, we hoard them till they rot in our silos, we even destroy them (our own, or those of our “enemies”).

Then despite our foolishness, God puts those gifts (both concrete and spiritual), and puts us, back together yet again. And again. An endless cycle, but more like an upward spiraling trajectory. This is the divine dance of history.

Even modern physics and the laws of thermodynamics bear it out: nothing –no matter— can truly be created nor destroyed. Matter is only transformed. We are matter, and we matter to an inherently compassionate and creative Universe (which is God, hiding in plain sight).

Through struggle, through sacrifice, through God’s own suffering, and all upon a foundation of love (either from others or direct from the Source), we are rebuilt. Civilizations are rebuilt. Our houses, our careers, our families, our relationships, our hearts, our very identity –all of these deserve nothing less than to be built and rebuilt upon the firm foundation of God’s love. And when they are, our suffering is lessened, we have more help, and the struggles bear good fruit.

Yet whether we build on rock or on sand, still all of these gifts –indeed all of creation– will be subject to suffering. They will fail, due to our own sin, or to the ravages of time, and will fall apart again. Yes, we are blessed to notice and add to their beauty, or their functionality. But like us, our creations are subject to death, the pendulum swings back the other way, “things fall apart”.

To quote George Harrison: “All things must pass.”

Only love –the God-ness in me, the Person-ness of God– is eternal, unchanging and strong enough to make Something out of the chaos that has always existed.

Love is the Biggest Bang, the sacrifice that leads to a new creation (umm …that new creation would be you, if you want it), the joy disguised as suffering.

Why else would Jesus’ incarnation, death, and bodily resurrection be necessary?

Suffering either means something, or life itself is meaningless.

Me, I choose to let my struggles –and God’s struggle right alongside me– mean something. What’s more, I choose because I was first chosen.



  1. you do not want my opinion in these matters. you would never believe.. me.

  2. p.s. the last advice i want to hear, is from paul. i never read the bible. too cruel and boring. anyway, i lived most of it. your’s truly

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