Friday, 29 March 2013

Sorrow and Love

Good Friday is the day on which my faith makes most sense to me. This is because, although I have never heard a completely satisfying intellectual argument as to why a loving God would allow so much human suffering, the image of a God who suffers along with us seems the most compelling emotional answer to that question. The cross is a rich metaphor; it does not really matter that it means different things to different people, more that we are prepared to search for meaning in it. In the clip above, Justin Welby describes how when he faced his daughter's death, he had a strong sense, alongside his grief, of the presence of Jesus that filled the room. That image of the simultaneous presence of love and grief recalls the words of Isaac Watts:
See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Or as it says in the liturgy,

“He opened wide for us his arms on the cross.”
Or in the words of William Blake:

“Until our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan.”

The type of love which stays with us when the chips are down, when have reached rock bottom, when nothing can really be said or done other than to offer love itself, is something very precious. It is precious because it is then that we realise that love is valuable, not because it can sort our problems out, but because love affirms our dignity as human beings. Love asserts that our human life, even in its last futility of weakness, pain, despair and death, still has meaning and value.

The triumph of the cross is not a triumph over weakness but a triumph through weakness. It holds the message that an all powerful God loves us enough to be totally defenceless and that this in itself is triumph and power.


  1. Thanks for this, Sue.

    I too find Good Friday the most meaningful day of the year. I think you have put the reasons into words in a way I hadn't yet managed to do.

    And I find it a consolation that Jesus' suffering came at the hands of the religious establishment!

    Iffy Vicar

  2. Glad it struck a chord. The comment about the religious establishment doesn't sound too good though? :(