Entrance into Suffering
The Cross as dogma is painless speculation; the Cross as lived suffering is anguish and glory. Yet God, out of the pattern of His own heart, has planted the Cross along the road of holy obedience. [p. 43]
Kelly is writing in the late 1930’s or perhaps 1940, and he refers several times in this section to the great suffering in Europe. Even though he didn’t live to see America’s entrance into the war, or to know the worst horrors of the holocaust or the atomic bomb, he still had a deep sense of the suffering of the planet.
[W]e shrink from suffering and can easily call all suffering an evil thing. Yet we live in an epoch of tragic sorrows, when man is adding to the crueler forces of nature such blasphemous horrors as drag soul as well as body into hell. And holy obedience must walk in this world, not aloof and preoccupied, but stained with sorrow’s travail. [p. 40]
This isn’t just because joining with people in sorrow is the right or Christian thing to do, but because there is a truth we see in suffering that we can miss in times of comfort. Comfortable times can entice us to live in the illusion that human cleverness or good will can give us the peace and security we need–and we can drift away from God, seeing no need for him since we are doing so well for ourselves. Tribulation reminds us of the truth. Thus Kelly writes:
An awful solemnity is upon the earth, for the last vestige of earthly security is gone. It has always been gone, and religion has always said so, but we haven’t believed it. [p. 41]
I’ve read a thousand times in the Bible that I shouldn’t trust in my money and possessions for security. Jesus said those things were all temporary, that only treasure in heaven lasts. But when the economy tanks and my IRA plummets, I have a unique opportunity to re-discover that Jesus was right, and to search my soul to see if I am willing to trust Him fully for my security, or whether I’ll keep scrambling for the shiny things I can gather up around me.