Here is the full text of the quote I used from Tim Keller (12/16/12) in the sermon last Sunday. Keller is the founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. This quote is excerpted from the sermon he gave following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. Unfortunately, it is useful again in helping us think through the tragic deaths at Newtown last Friday.
One of the great themes of the Hebrew Scriptures is that God identifies with the suffering. There are all these great texts where God says things like this: ‘If you oppress the poor, you oppress to me. I am a husband to the widow. I am father to the fatherless.’ I think the texts are saying God binds up his heart so closely with suffering people that he interprets any move against them as a move against him. This is powerful stuff!
But Christianity says he goes even beyond that. Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s son, divinity became vulnerable to and involved in—suffering and death! He didn’t come as a general or emperor. He came as a baby. He was born in a manger, no room in the inn.
But it is on the Cross that we see the ultimate wonder. On the cross we sufferers finally see, to our shock, that God now knows too what it is to lose a loved one in an unjust attack. And so you see what this means? John Stott puts it this way: ‘I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?’
Do you see what this means? It’s true, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be … that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be … that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates our suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the Cross is an incredibly empowering hint. Ok, it’s only a hint, but if you grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength.
“Lord, thank you for identifying so personally with our suffering and pain. Please be the God of all comfort and the Father of all compassion* to every grieving person in Newtown who turns to you for strength and courage in the days and weeks to come. Amen.”
Resting in Him,
* 2 Corinthians 1:3