How do we see God and in our suffering Coronavirus-world? Franciscan priest Richard Rohr, in ‘Breathing Underwater’, helps me.
God allows suffering
Rohr discusses a loving, omnipotent God who allows suffering: ‘The evidence is overwhelming that God fully allows and does not stop genocides, the abuse of children, brutal wars, unspeakable human and animal suffering, the imprisonment of the innocent, the sexual enslavement of girls…’
God allows physical handicap, mental illness, drought, hurricane… and coronavirus.
God is for the suffering
Jesus, describes his mission: ‘…to preach good news to the poor … proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed…’
This friend of tax collectors and sinners shows that God helps and supports the marginalised, suffering, those with coronavirus. He is on their side.
God is with the suffering…
‘Jesus wept’ out of empathy, sharing suffering and grief. His friend Lazarus had died.
Rohr: ‘…most peaceful people I know love a God who walks with crucified people, and thus reveals and ‘redeems’ their plight as his own.
God identifies with and walks alongside the suffering, sick, those with coronavirus.
God is in the suffering…
Jesus, the man, shares human suffering. He is also present in those who suffer – the hungry, the sick, the poor, the homeless…
Rohr: ’Jesus is not observing human suffering from a distance but is somehow in human suffering with us and for us.’
God, the all-powerful creator of this world, also suffers at the heart of it.
God is suffering
Jesus, the suffering servant, endures mental and physical torture. His friends have deserted him and his father God is apparently inactive. He dies suffering.
Rohr describes a suffering God who meets suffering people: ‘Suffering people can love and trust a suffering God. Only a suffering God can ‘save’ suffering people…. Any other god becomes a guilty bystander…’