Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Shadow Of The Cross: Hope In The Midst Of Suffering

The image that accompanies this blog post was taken in New Orleans during the aftermath of cyclone Katrina. You’ll notice that the streets are deserted that’s because people have been evacuated. The caption that went with this photo said that it was a photo of a cross taken on the wall of a building in the deserted 9th ward of New Orleans as aid workers waited to hear if the disaster was going to be as bad as they had feared. It’s interesting that their thoughts would turn to the cross. I guess in our western Christianised culture the cross has become associated with death. Along our highways (at least in New Zealand) white crosses are placed to remind us of people that have died on treacherous corners, intersection and even long straights. Likewise war cemeteries confront us with row upon row of white crosses. In this case it may have been a symbol of dread for the photographer that death and grave markers was all they faced as they continued their work. It may have been a symbol of hope a reminder of God’s presence with the people of the city and the aid workers themselves. That the God who loved us so much that he gave his son to die on a cross was with them. It may have been both at the same time.

We used this image in our Worship On Wednesday. It's context of a city in ruins after a natural disaster gave it significance for people in New Zealand dealing with our second city Christchurch being devastated by an earthquake. Placing it in juxtaposition with a video of psalm 146 which featured amazing computer graphics of Hubble telescope images and left you with the sense of a God who is majestic and mighty and also concerned for his world but distant. But here in this almost non-descript photo of the shadow of a telegraph pole is another picture of God... God who is with us in the midst of our suffering. A God who is with us and able to be a source of hope in the face of death, suffering and grief. Not beyond it or unaffected but present and having experienced it.

In times like this and indeed through all of life we need to know both the vast sovereignty of God and God's closeness.

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