Wednesday, August 3, 2011

He is Hanging Here on This Gallows

Where is God when evil things happen? The Word made flesh, as with most good questions, answers this or at least gives us some understanding. The incarnation makes it possible for God to fully understand the plight of the afflicted. No greater injustice has ever been committed than at Calvary. Christ, a perfect and innocent being, underwent one of the most brutal deaths ever contrived by man. He was forsaken by those he loved. He was abandoned by His Father. He had the hate, malice, and sin of the world whipped and nailed into His body.

In Chapter 4 of Elie Wiesel's Night, there is a scene where a young boy is hanged. His weight is not enough to break his neck, so he slowly suffocates to death for over half an hour before a crowd of fellow prisoners. Having reached their pinnacle of hopelessness, Elie hears a man behind him ask:

"Where is God? Where is God now?”
And I heard a voice within me answer him:
“Where is He? Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows."

This is often read as Elie losing faith in God, but the death of faith and the death of God are two very different things. The death of God has power and hope because of the ultimate good resulting from it, where death of Faith does not. I think Elie is writing of the former. Christ's crucifixion places Him at the center of every atrocity ever committed. God is not distant whenever injustice occurs. God is hanging in the gallows at Buna. He is the starved. He is the raped. He is the murdered. Where is God when evil things happen? He's there. He's been there and He knows it well.

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