Had God abandoned us?
Brother Antony continues to encourage us to have faith that the Lord is still with us in the midst of calamity and suffering:
With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, I am sure that many people are questioning where God is in the midst of all this? Some might even question whether God has abandoned us? But in the Gospel according to John we hear the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. And in that story, we hear that when Jesus saw the tears of the family members and friends of Lazarus, Jesus Himself also wept. And, upon seeing His tears, the Jewish people said, “See how much He loved him!
The love of Jesus was revealed and seen in the tears that He wept. And it is a reminder to us that so often love is discovered in the midst of our tears, in the midst of our suffering. Many of us for example have lost a loved one and it is often the case that it is only when we experience that loss that we come to realise just how much we love them, just how much we are going to miss them. Sometimes love is also rediscovered in the midst of suffering. Sadly, I have been to funerals where family members have not spoken to one another for a number of years. But it is there, in the midst of suffering, as they grieve the loss of a loved one that differences are finally put to one side, even if only temporarily, as they rediscover some sort of a relationship with one another, some sort of a love for one another.
But as well as discovering our love for one another in the midst of suffering and difficulty, it is also in the midst of suffering that we so often experience the love that God has for us as well. It was when grieving the loss of their brother Lazarus, that Mary and Martha saw the tears of Jesus and recognised His love for them. It was in their grief and suffering that they experienced God’s love and presence. And it is a reminder to us that in the midst of suffering, God does not abandon us, but, rather, it is in the midst of suffering that God is often found, God is closer than ever before.
There are many people suffering at this moment as a result of the Coronavirus. There are those who are suffering from the effects of the virus itself. But there are many others that are suffering indirectly as a result of the virus. There are those that are suffering from the loneliness of isolation and the loss of human contact. There are those who are suffering financially from the loss of work and jobs and the knock-on effect this might have. There are those who are suffering from the effects of having to stay inside for a prolonged period of time, lockdown is far more difficult for people and for families living in a small house or a flat or an apartment with little space to move around in. And then there are those who are suffering from worry and anxiety at this time, the fear of the unknown, the fear of how long this crisis will go on for, the fear that they might become a victim of the virus. Worry and anxiety in turn can lead to other psychological and health problems. I think the daily death count in the newspapers and hysteria whipped up by social media doesn’t help matters, it only feeds into this fear and worry and anxiety that people already have.
And yet, the tears that Jesus wept for His friend Lazarus, are the same tears that He weeps for us now. The tears of Jesus remind us that God is with us now, the tears that Jesus wept remind us that it is in the midst of suffering that God is closer to us than ever before. And the Cross is the permanent reminder to us of this. It is on the Cross, in the midst of suffering, that we see the greatest expression of God’s love for us and for the whole world. Love is found in the midst of suffering; God is found on the Cross in the midst of suffering. God is found in whatever Crosses we might be carrying at this time. And so, in whatever way we are suffering, the Cross is a reminder to us that God has not abandoned us, but, rather, God is with us now, closer than ever before.