Human Suffering and the Evicerated Christ
History speaks in a common voice with the present at times, and when this happens it can be saftely assumed that the future will cry with the same voice. There are always exceptions to the rule, but none the less, history does repeat itself. It could be said that humans are players on such a predictable stage, and are of all players the most predictable. There is a common flow in the ebing and undulation of civilizations and nations, as there is a common flow in the personal experience of every individual. If there is one undeniable reality that foists itself upon both the microcosm of the individual and the macrocosm of community, and even on to the cosmos iself, this one reality is suffering.
Whether it is suffering at the hands of others in violence, the internal turmoil of the mind and emotions, the agony of loss or rejection, the pain of disease and decrepidation, or the subtle excrutiation of loneliness and dissapointment, suffering is a reality that cannot be denied. Oh yes, it can be explained through various avenues of thought, and numbed through a myriad of methods, but none the less suffering is there, detected and undeniable. We may quarrel about defentions or origin, but when we suffer whe know it, it is not a thing to be rationally proven, to due so is not necessary, just poke the questioner in the eye and that is all the proof you will need. But let me clear the air of a false assumption of what suffering is. Suffering is not necessarily pain.
Dr. Ravi Zacharias tells the story of little girl born with a disability that inhibits her from feeling pain, or any sensation for that fact, in her physical body. Her parents are always on the gaurd for her, at every moment because this little girl could so easily burn or cut herself, or even bleed out without even knowing it. Her lack of pain is the danger that threatens her life at every corner. This is such a present danger to this child, that her parents spend time every night praying that their little girl would be able to feel pain. Her parents are actually crying out to God that their precious little girl would experience pain. If that little girl could just feel physical pain, than her suffering would be lightened. But let me take this to another extreme.
When studying psychopaths, and I mean real criminal psychopaths who have engaged in serial killing and various other behavior that would be considered un-human, scientists made the discovery that one of the things that creates such behavior is the pychopaths inhability to feel remorse or guilt. The individual here is not actually capable, for whatever reason, be it nature or nuture, to feel guilt or the emotional pain of remorse with which to measure their actions. This in turn creates a state of mind where pleasure can overwhelm the individual becuase pleasure becomes like a drug, in the sense that there is never any guilt to counter act the search for pleasure. If i can experince sexual delight without ever feeling guilt, than anything that brings me sexual satisfaction will be very attractive and there will be very little to disuade me from pursuing that end. I myself may recognize that rape is "bad" but there is nothing within me that truly feels the "badness" and if there is not intensity of remorse or pain in guilt to counteract the intensity of that sexual pleasure, then the pleasure itself becomes absolutely overwhelming like a drug that takes control. Just like a real drug, the intensity of the pleasure dulls over repetition, and soon there is a desire for better and better high, therefore when rape no longer provides the high, the psychopath moves to other actions like an adict may move towards higher doeses of a drug or stronger drugs. This individual is in desperate need of feeling emotional pain in the form of remorse and guilt, it is exactly that kind of internal turmoil that one would wich for the individual. This psychopath suffers much, and his exclusion from a healthy part of community is just one part of that suffering. If only that individual could feel intense emotional agony in guilt.
One could also consider those who study psychopaths who are criminals and the condition of their own psychology. Many criminal pathologists have experienced moments of intense suffering when they begin to realize that they actually have begun to feel nothing towards the victims. Their job requires them to adjust so much to the gruesome reality of mutilation and violence that over time a numbness sets in. For some in that kind of work, they express an imense amound of suffering that comes from feeling nothing, from being numb, from being able to look upon a mutilated victim, and feel very little and yet know that should be horrified and are not.
There are many examples that could be used, but the point is clear. Suffering may be painful, but suffering may also be caused by an utter lack of pain.
It is here where humanity's suffering must be put into perspective. Our ultimate suffering in the eyes of God begins somewhere rather unexpected. When humanity can look upon the cross and feel nothing, no pain or remorse or guilt, it is then that God declares that we are truly suffering. For you see, the little girl who has no physical sensation in her body cannot feel pain but she can also not feel her mothers kisses or her fathers arms. The psychopath cannot feel guilt or remorse, but he also cannot feel the full nature of his hummanity and the community he has with other humans because of this shared humanity, he cannot imagine another person's pain and empathise, because he has no pain. The criminal pathologist may be able to look upon an evicerated corpse without horror, but how then will he look upon his sleeping children at home, for if he opend himself up to feel for those little feet and littel toes, does he not open himself up to feel for those feet and those toes sticking out from under the white mortuary cloth?
When humanity can look upon the evicerated Christ of the cross and feel no pain or agony of guilt, then we are truly suffering in God's eyes, for then we also close ourself off from the glory and promise of the ressurection of that Christ, in which we are drawn into the love and relationship, communion and confort, and the arms and touch of God Himself. That is the perspective of God, and that is what He declares as ultimate suffering...a lack of pain and agony and remorse in our very being, at the foot of the cross.
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