Chosen within the oven Christianity at present
Today's pairing is "Rain, in Your Black Eyes", performed by Ezio Bosso, with an haunting underwater dance / film by Julie Gautier. See the video below.
"See, I have refined you, but not with silver; I chose you in the oven of distress. "
Isaiah 48:10 (King James Version)
Day 3. 266,115 confirmed cases, 11,153 deaths worldwide.
Jesus describes himself as the way, the truth and the life. He also says that his followers should pick up their crosses and follow him. The way is the way to the cross. The truth is crucified. Life is a life of suffering.
Suffering is endemic to the human condition, but essential to Christian life. Christ asks us to die for ourselves. He models suffering for others. We are not running towards suffering for their own sake. Suffering is not good in itself. But in Christ we will suffer if we love God and love others, and if we suffer we will understand.
Shortly after breaking my neck in a gymnastics accident, I sat in the dark of a movie theater and saw the words of Isaiah 48:10 on the screen. My dreams had been stolen. The rest of my life would be chronic pain. But a feeling of gratitude came over me. Maybe suffering made sense. Perhaps I had been refined and selected in the oven of distress to serve the glory of God. Maybe we are all.
We cannot decide whether to suffer. We can only choose what it will mean for us – whether we allow ourselves to be healed and deepened by our suffering and teach us things about ourselves and our God that we would never have known otherwise. Kierkegaard called it the school of suffering. We all go to school, but we all have to choose to learn.
When the pain became my companion, I suddenly felt all my bones. Whatever was hiding beneath the surface came with a rude and persistent pain. Similarly, Leiden illuminates the architecture of the soul. It makes us transparent to ourselves. It makes others visible to us who were previously not visible. And it makes it clear that we have to rest completely and continuously in God.
Suffering is terrifying and ugly. It drags in agonizing length and costs us all our strength. It strains us with every bone, muscle and tendon just to survive another hour, another day. It carves away things that we appreciate.
In the end, suffering leaves us deep, alone with God in silence and silence. It teaches us when we are ready to learn that God Himself is our last refuge, our last source of strength and comfort. In suffering we descend like Jesus so that God can lift us up.
The follower of Christ, who learns wisdom in her suffering, is like a moon reflected in a lake: her light is only borrowed and her lowness reflects her greatness.
The corridor through the sea
The Corridor through the Sea is a series of daily meditations by the President and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our feelings of fear and isolation, and the way we find beauty and truth and hope – and Christ Himself – in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people who have been released from our slavery to sin, but we live between where we were and where we should be. There is danger on both sides, but our hope and belief is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise.
Timothy Dalrymple is President and CEO of Christianity Today. Follow him on Twitter @TimDalrymple_.
The corridor through the sea pillars: