“Why are you so far from saving me?”: examples of suffering in the music of Bon Iver, La Dispute, and Sufjan Stevens

September 23, 2016

 

After a five-year hiatus, which was originally announced as a permanent break, the prominent Indie Rock band Bon Iver has announced a new album. In the past month, the band has released three new singles, each with incredibly strange names: “22 (OVER S∞∞N),” “10 D E A T H B R E A S T ⚄ ⚄,” and “33 ‘GOD.’” In this piece, I will focus on the third song and, specifically, how this third song is an interesting stylistic and thematic companion to La Dispute’s “I See Everything,” and Sufjan Stevens’ “Casimir Pulaski Day.” I will examine how each song invokes God in the midst of suffering and doubt and how none of them provide a satisfying answer or comfort to the questions of suffering, the absence of God, or the finality of death — an answer which can only be found in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ.

 

Establishing

 

The casual listener or fan may notice similar themes that run through the music of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver’s lead singer and main songwriter) and Sufjan Stevens. Both tend to write songs with the qualities of a lullaby, often whispering (even breathing) their lyrics, as well as mixing in gentle horn and string arrangements. They sing about self-doubt, relationship troubles, and family tension. But this isn’t the way one would describe the music of La Dispute. La Dispute is a post hardcore band from Grand Rapids, Michigan. They sing high-context, place-driven, belligerent songs about addiction, memory, identity, and death. The things that makes these artists, and especially these songs, interesting for comparison is that the characters in these songs are each dependent on relationships, they each discuss death, personal suffering, or profound confusion, and each of these songs contains either an explicit reference or strong allusion to Christ’s death on the cross. After discussing these songs, I will engage some examples of suffering — specifically familial death — from scripture and make some comparisons about the nature of suffering. I hope to demonstrate that the answer to (and proper response to) suffering (though nearly impossible to accept, save for the grace of Christ), is a reorientation of our concerns and an embrace of the hope, mercy, and faith that can be found only in Christ’s death and resurrection.

 

Why are you so far from saving me?
 
 

The most recent of the new singles released by Bon Iver, “33 ‘GOD,’” is the one I have found most interesting and compelling. This song is the first mention (in my recollection) of God in all of Vernon’s songwriting. Vernon seems to be wrestling with God and God’s tendency to interfere with/control human behavior. The song — which was released with a music video containing lyrics and chaotic visuals of a thunderstorm (see above) — begins with a printed (but unspoken till the very end) quotation from the first verse of Psalm 22: “Why are you so far from saving me?” This is actually the middle of three phrases from the verse.

 

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1 ESV)

 

Some readers may notice that the words that begin this Psalm are exactly the same words that Christ uttered from the cross as he was dying.[1] In its original context, the Psalmist is crying out to God, broken and isolated, because he feels oppressed by enemies on all sides and God has not communicated with him lately. He is afraid for his life, but also mourning the loss of his relationship with God. Given the hopeless nature of this verse in its original context, when placed in this song, it seems to indicates that the relationship Vernon has with God is not stable, and seems defiant, unsatisfied, and strained.

 

The song consists of three main parts: a sample of the song “Morning” by Jim Ed Brown, a sample of the song “Iron Sky” by Paolo Nutini, and Vernon’s own lyrics and voice which make up the main body of the song. The Jim Ed Brown sample, a melodic chant of sorts, refers to a room where “life began” and where a thing is happening (or at least existing) that will be gone when the speaker leaves the room. The precise meaning of the room is not necessarily important, and is intentionally vague.

 

Perhaps this is a reference to the impossibility of permanence, that life begins in a narrow room (our very mother’s womb, perhaps) and we are innocent and pure and unblemished. But we leave the room, and that innocence, vulnerability, and perfection are lost. We begin to learn what it is to make mistakes, to be embarrassed, to be humiliated, and to be cruel — the negative experiences of being human. In a sense, we are always outgrowing rooms though they are not always physical rooms with four walls — sometimes they are states of mind or states of being. We are always becoming more human in good and bad measure. Perhaps the thing that is gone when we leave these room is the previously clung-to god-like feeling of the power we believe we have, borne out of the naiveté and the innocence of isolation. We are inherently helpless, ignorant, and feeble in these rooms, yet we feel invincible. When we leave the room, we experience the struggle for power, protection, safety, and relationship, even as those things fall through our fingers. Gradually, we learn to gain these things in stages through reliance on others.[2]

 

But that’s just a sample, and while I believe it is part of the song’s argument and narrative, having been intentionally placed, it’s not actually Vernon’s voice or precisely his personal perspective. The dominant narrative of Vernon’s own lyrics is abstract and nearly impossible to follow. The main theme and attitude in the song seems to be defiance, independence, and isolation. He mentions a set of stairs and sings lines like, “these will just be places to me now” which seems like a melancholy remark about how moments and memories are grounded in particular places, but now, those places are just places — they are not special anymore. He also seems to be telling a story of a particular thunderstorm which is referenced directly as lightening in the music video, but also could be a reference indirectly as Godlike the song’s very title suggests. He sings, “I would have walked across any thousand lands” — an indication of commitment and desire, but then he says (in a disconnected way), “I didn’t need you that night, not going to need you anytime.” This is a sudden and abrupt change both lyrically and musically.

 

The tension in the song seems to be between two people, but because of the way the various samples are layered, and how the particular Psalm is quoted at the beginning, Vernon seems to be struggling to reconcile his current relationship with God. Whatever happened between Vernon and the other person on the night of the thunderstorm seems secondary. There is a tension between what Vernon is saying and what he believes. Perhaps by quoting this Psalm, Vernon is indicating that he echoes the disposition and posture of Christ who, on the cross, was utterly abandoned by God. Vernon may feel abandoned by God and isolated in his suffering. He feels so far from God, and believes that God is so far from saving him.

 
We have faith that we will get through this, no matter what the end
 

 

In the song “I See Everything” from La Dispute’s 2011 album, “Wildlife,” singer Jordan Dreyer tells the story of sitting in a high school classroom and listening to selections from his teachers’ journal from the time her seven-year-old son was dying of cancer. Each entry highlights the decaying condition of the boy, yet also makes clear the boy’s strength and courage in spite of the disease. The journal entries (as lyrics) read:

 

“The cancer is furious but our son is resilient / we have all the faith we’ll get through this no matter what the end.”

“He said it’s easy to find people who have suffered worse than him ‘like Jesus suffered worse than anyone’ he told me last night, ‘when God abandoned him.’”

“We buried our son today…and while death is ugly we must not let it scare us from God / Abundant grace has restored him”

“Before the moment he left he, briefly rested from death, suddenly opened his eyes, and said ‘I SEE EVERYTHING. I SEE EVERYTHING.’”

 

These lines chronicle a sad, descending journey from hope to death, yet, somehow, demonstrate a sustained, abiding faith and reliance on God — both on the part of the suffering child and his parents.

The end of the song, the final verse, in fact, is Dreyer’s honest and heartbreaking confession that although he has not endured a tragedy on the scale of losing a child or “the torture of cancer,” like his teacher or her son, he has nonetheless lost hope and faith in God. He admits that he is “empty of comfort” and “weary of waiting” — for God to relieve him, presumably. He sings, “though I’ve felt nowhere what you have [the death of the boy] I see nothing it all.” This mention of metaphorical blindness is a direct and stark contrast to the final words of the dying boy, recorded earlier — when he was closest to death, he said “I see everything.” Dreyer explains a tragic situation in which the victims (his teacher and her family) found hope and uses his song to ask for help to “see everything,” or at least help to find meaning in his own miserable situation (the details of which are largely unknown). He doesn’t know where else to turn.

 
He takes, and he takes, and he takes

 

Those familiar with Sufjan Stevens’ work may have come to accept (and maybe even long for) his haunting, cryptic, and nuanced descriptions of God and of the relationship he has with God. Songs like “To Be Alone with You,” “Oh God, Where Are You Now (In Pickerel Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? …),” “The Only Thing,” along with many renditions of canonized hymns, all suggest a complex relationship with God. Personally, I believe the song that offers the most unique, conflicted, challenging, and tragic view of redemption, grace, and divine sovereignty is “Casimir Pulaski Day,” from the 2005 album, Come On! Feel The Illinoise! The song is (presumably) written of a young woman in the time leading up to and shortly after her death from bone cancer. Stevens mentions several meaningful landmarks in the short, tempestuous, confusing, and passionate relationship the two shared.

Most of the song takes place in a hospital room, although there are references to other places and times. At the beginning of the song, Stevens’ friend has been diagnosed with bone cancer. Stevens references a bible study in which the participants pray for the cancer patient, but “nothing ever happens” — meaning that the prayers didn’t heal her. And, self reflectively, he acknowledges that, at a time when her life was already tragically complicated by the cancer, he made it even more complicated by kissing her on the mouth. He feels a burden that his selfish, romantic feelings complicated her life in an unnecessary way.

 

There is a precise and tender moment at the end of the song where Stevens references the morning his friend died and tells of his experience with “the glory.” He sings:

 

In the morning when you finally go 
And the nurse runs in with her head hung low 
And the cardinal hits the window

 

In the morning in the winter shade 
On the first of March on the holiday 
I thought I saw you breathing

 

Oh, the glory that the Lord has made 
And the complications when I see his face 
In the morning in the window

 

Oh, the glory when he took our place 
But he took my shoulders and he shook my face 
And he takes and he takes and he takes

 

He sings about a cardinal (a thing the Lord made) hitting the window (and presumably dying), but he never actually mentions that the bird has died, just like he never actually mentions that his friend has died, he only says that she has finally gone. Euphemisms are used for death because it is hard to admit death. He then mentions complications again. The first time, he mentioned how his particular choices, emotions, and actions complicated the relationship and final days of his close friend’s life, but he mentions complications now because his relationship with God has been changed by death. Love and romance didn’t save his friend. Prayers didn’t save his friend. God didn’t save his friend. These complications come from seeing God’s face in the window — in the window where he saw the cardinal die. To the singer, based on this situation, God’s face is death. This side of God is a complication Stevens could do without.

 

When he sings about the complications his lover has faced, they are complications because of Stevens’ actions — specifically kissing her in the midst of her suffering, introducing romance. When he talks about complications upon seeing God’s face, they are complications because of God’s actions — specifically the taking of his friend’s life (and death in general as it is the cardinal in the window that elicits this confession). Yet, Stevens finds some sort of comfort in a cosmic reality that is far bigger than his friend — the reality of the glory of God. But this is not a simple solution, nor a necessarily positive one. Throughout scripture, the glory of God is both a terrifying and a wonderful thing. Here are just two examples:

 

Terrible Glory: “Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.” (Exodus 24:17 ESV)

 

Wonderful Glory: “His glory is great through your salvation; splendor and majesty you bestow on him.” (Psalm 21:5 ESV)

 

A dichotomy is established here of God’s purposes: they can be perceived as good and as bad, or at least as “mysterious.” Stevens seems to understand this tension. Though he is burdened by the fact that God did not save his friend he also acknowledges that Christ took his place on the cross. He recognizes the terrible glory of the death of his friend (and the cardinal), but also the wonderful glory of Christ taking her sins away on the cross. God takes both things — his friend’s life and his friend’s sins.

 

God didn’t save his friend’s life, but God did save his friend from her sins. The relationship is complicated because we are comfortable with God taking things we hate (sin), but we are not comfortable with him taking things we love (the lives of our friends). From Stevens’ perspective, God took our place on the cross and he has not stopped taking. Yet, death is not something that Christ takes pleasure in, it is the result of the fall. The wages of sin is death.[3] Though Christ has defeated death as a final punishment and there is now no final death, no more condemnation for those in Christ Jesus[4], yet there are still temporal, earthly, first deaths.

 

At the end, Stevens seems to have reached some understanding of his relationship with God, even if he doesn’t exactly understand what he believes God has done. In the midst of complications, he realizes that God holds him, sees him, and takes his place. Even in his grief, God takes his place. God grieves alongside him. God takes sins and confusion, and eventually, in a final act of liberation, God will take grief, too.

 

 

How are these songs connected?
 

I think there are a lot of similarities between these three songs. They each seem to be grasping for a God who isn’t completely present. God isn’t exactly a character in these songs — he doesn’t interact in a physical or audible way. He is consciously absent. All three seem to be attempting, in both earnest and detached ways, to understand where God is, why he is hard to find, and why he doesn’t help his people — or maybe why he helps some and not others. Vernon doesn’t necessarily mention any explicit struggle, yet, using the words of the Psalm, Vernon is asking why God is so far from saving him. This is a far-ness of both proximity (care and attention) and time (having not heard from God in a while). Vernon has no answers, only questions. La Dispute also doesn’t mention a specific struggle, but rather, Dreyer expresses the exasperation he feels with his inability to maintain his faith in God — especially when others who have suffered far worse than him seem to be able to find grace and belief. Stevens references a specific time of prayer in his song — a prayer at the bible study for healing that does nothing. Perhaps Stevens’ most pressing question is “why is God refusing to answer the prayers of his people?” The La Dispute song bridges the interesting gap between subject matter of Stevens’ song and the ambiguity of Vernon’s song, while confirming and further wallowing in the uneasiness, uncertainty, helplessness, and angst of each.

 

In many ways, Psalm 22:1 is applicable to all three songs — why is God so far from saving Vernon, why has God forsaken Dreyer, and why is God not listening to the words of Stevens’ groaning. The closest Vernon gets to an experience with God in the song seems to be his encounter with a natural disaster, with lightning; the closest Dreyer gets to an experience with God is second hand from his teacher’s journal; the closest thing Stevens gets to an experience with God is the “glory” he sees in the death of the cardinal.

 

Examples from scripture
 

Scripture is full of narratives of suffering. Many of them involve characters who do not understand their suffering, but who live in the midst of suffering, obeying God and maintaining faith in God’s good purposes, even if their current situations seem grim. Of all these narratives, there are three that I think are worth considering in conversation with these songs: Abraham sacrificing Isaac, the story of Job’s confusion, and the death of Lazarus.

 

In Genesis 22, God commands Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, up on a mountain to offer him as a burnt sacrifice. This seems contradictory to God’s character: why would God ask Abraham to kill his own son — especially since God had, just two chapters (probably about 5–15 years) earlier, declared that Abraham would be the father of a great nation? Yet Abraham agrees to do this hard thing. He takes Isaac up to the mountain, obeying God. Along the way, Isaac asks Abraham, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” unaware that Abraham is intending to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham responds, “God will provide for himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”[5] Abraham’s faithfulness is evident here, even in the midst of this hard conversation and impossible duty. Abraham obeys God’s decree even to the point of placing Isaac on the altar and even raising his knife-bearing arm to strike.

 

In the book of Job, we read of a man of God, faithful and true, of whom God is proud and content. Satan appears before God and challenges God to take all of Job’s possessions and earthly security from him, thinking that if Job’s property is taken, he would no longer follow God faithfully and would no longer be good. Yet, when Job’s children are killed and his earthly possessions destroyed, we read that “Job arose, tore his robes, fell on his face, and worshipped.”[6] His first instinct was not to curse God, but to worship God — Job proclaimed, “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”[7] Throughout the course of the story, Job’s friends continually try to convince him to curse God. They believe that God has done these horrible things to Job. Job’s friends believe Job to be a righteous man, and therefore do not consider this punishment just. But Job refuses to submit to self-pity, anger, or slander. He especially refuses to curse God. Job’s biggest concern and hurt is that God will not respond to his cries for help. He doesn’t understand why God will not explain what sin Job committed to deserve this punishment. Most of his cries are rooted in confusion and despair, not anger or hostility. Job’s main concern seems to be that God is inaccessible, rather than that God is maleficent. The relationship between God and Job is gone and this is what Job mourns most passionately.

 

The story of Lazarus can be found in John 11. Lazarus was brother to Mary and Martha. These siblings have a relationship with Jesus before this story is told. Because of this relationship, they know that Jesus is powerful to heal and so, the women send a message to Jesus that Lazarus is ill and may die. They want him to come heal Lazarus before he dies. Their relationship is such that the women write, “the one whom you love is ill.”[8] Jesus, however, remains where he is for two days and does not immediately go to Lazarus’ aid. Jesus tells his disciples that the illness will not lead to Lazarus’ death, but is intended to be a display of God’s glory. After two days, Jesus comes to Mary and Martha’s home and, upon arriving, finds that Lazarus has indeed died. Mary and Martha, each independently tell Jesus that if he had been there earlier, Lazarus would not have died. This is a demonstration of their faith in Jesus’ healing power over Lazarus’ illness. Jesus is moved — even to tears[9] — by the relationship he has with these women and Lazarus, and by their faith in him and sorrow at Lazarus’ passing. This was a death that, according to the faith of the women, could have been prevented. Yet, for a reason not immediately known, Christ delays his coming to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

 

The rest of the story
 

Yet, many readers may notice that I have not told the full story of these scriptural accounts. As Abraham is about to strike Isaac for the sacrifice — even as he raises his arm with the knife, a voice from above stops him, commends him for his obedience and faithfulness, and directs his attention to a nearby thicket in which a ram is caught. God spares Isaac and Abraham sacrifices the ram instead.

 

Job, after much longing after God and begging for God to restore their relationship, finally receives an answer from God. God appears and gives Job a history of the cosmos as a way of demonstrating his great power and might. God’s answer to Job is that God’s plans and actions are deeper and more complete than Job could ever comprehend. God doesn’t owe Job and explanation, but Job owes God worship, praise, and faithfulness. Job accepts this and God restores Job’s possessions and family.

 

After weeping for Lazarus, Jesus demonstrates his power over death by resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. Jesus foretold to Peter earlier in the story that Lazarus’ death was necessary in order that those who witnessed Lazarus’ death and resurrection might believe in the power of God even over death. Though the sorrow of Mary, Martha, and others could have been avoided had Christ come to Lazarus’ aid earlier, a much more powerful feat than mere healing was demonstrated — resurrection.

 

The measure of grace demonstrated in each of these stories is progressive. First, substitution: God provides the ram. Next, restoration of relationship: God responds to Job with a display of might and reassurance. Finally, resurrection: after waiting and mourning, Christ resurrects Lazarus from the dead. Though the characters Abraham, Job, and Mary and Martha are praised for their faithfulness, that does not necessarily mean that their obedience or sorrow were easy. But the faithfulness within the mourning, despair, and hard decisions is the most important and perhaps the most difficult thing to learn.

 

The final lesson
 

The thread that I think ties the songs and scriptural stories together most strongly is Christ’s death on the cross. Each of the songs mention the moment or scene of Christ’s death either by explicit invocation or strong allusion. Stevens mentions it when he says “all the glory when he [Jesus] took our place [on the cross].” La Dispute mentions it through the journal entries, when the boy says that “Jesus suffered worse than him when God abandoned him.” That moment of abandon is the moment when Jesus shouts from the cross “My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?” which is actually Jesus quoting from Psalm 22:1, which is the same verse from the Bon Iver song. The fact that these songs are not just connected by a loose theme of suffering, or a stronger theme of contemplating God’s role (or absence) in suffering, but they are firmly connected by this precise moment and imagery from scripture and Christ’s death is interesting.

 

Furthermore, the three scriptural stories I shared are also all connected in that they each parallel and foreshadow Christ’s death. Christ, like the ram for Isaac, is a sacrificial substitute for our sin.[10] Like how God restored Job’s relationship after his longing and despair, when Christ died, the curtain of the temple which had separated the Holy of Holies from the general area of the temple — and symbolically God from the people (save for the intersession of the priest) — was physically torn, demonstrating the breaking of the barrier of sin between God and his people. The relationship between God and his people that the Fall and sin had damaged, was restored through Christ’s death. Finally, the resurrection and reversal of Lazarus’ death is a foreshadowing of Christ’s own resurrection and the reversal of all death through his sacrifice. The waiting and mourning by Mary and Martha parallels the three days Christ was dead before he rose again and also parallels the time that we who believe find ourselves in now, as we wait for Christ’s return at the second coming.

 

The reason there is hope in the scriptural accounts, but not in the songs is not an easy thing to discuss. Unlike the songs, which focus on the suffering and confusion of the singers in the absence of God, the scriptural accounts each point to a greater truth, not just a greater problem. The scriptural stories are concerned with substitution, restoration, and resurrection. They are imbedded in a grand narrative of God’s might. This strength and purpose is complicated and at times indiscernible.

 

There are no easy answers. It is impossible to be comforting while telling another soul that there is hope even in death unless there is an understanding, belief, and embrace of the resurrection. We who believe are blessed to know the proper direction of our obedience and faithfulness (resurrection). Even if the paths and diversions along the way (cancer, depression, divorce, injury) attempt to deter us, our belief must remain in Christ, his crucifixion and death for our sins, and the salvation from death provided in his resurrection. When Jesus speaks to Martha, before Lazarus has been raised, he says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” [11] So we trust and believe in Jesus to deliver us from our sin through his death on the cross and to deliver us from death through his resurrection. Though we suffer, we hope.

 

“Take heart, I have overcome the world”
 

Before Christ died, he proclaimed to his disciples, “I have said these things to you that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” Christ promises that we will have troubles: external trouble (persecution) from others as a result of our faith, personal trouble (faith crisis) as a result of our sin and disobedience, and internal trouble (disease) as a result of sin’s effects of nature. Yet we have peace that Christ has overcome the world, the results of which have yet to be fully realized. We have hope in Christ’s salvation. Even though we know the outcome, that doesn’t mean that hardships become easy. Jesus knew he was going to raise Lazarus, but he still mourned and wept. The reality of the resurrection means that we have faith and assurance that God is in control and justified in his actions and his timing.

 

What these songs lack, but scripture illuminates, is the need for a rejection of ourselves and the remedies and comparisons we find easy. That even when his commandments seem against our wishes, we must obey. That even when we feel as though God has stopped listening to or talking to us, we must not curse him, but we must remain faithful. That even when all seems lost and that God could save us, perhaps he is waiting for a more important moment to demonstrate his power, that we may believe.

 

Afterword
 

I would like to take a moment and address some of the kinds of suffering that my above article does not consider, specifically interpersonal violence, systematic injustice, and oppression. I believe, I talk about disease, death, and existential/spiritual confusion — things that are largely out of our control — but I don’t attempt (or promise) to address the problem of evil. I am poignantly reminded of this fact at this moment. As I write and prepare this article for posting this week, my country has seen more killings of defenseless black bodies by police. As a Christian, even as a human, I must lament these killings and the taking of black and brown bodies. While I believe that the answer to this evil and injustice is ultimately still found in Christ’s death and resurrection, there are also intermediate steps and actions that are right and true. These are the things that we must pursue wholeheartedly.

 

I don’t believe God ordains or commissions violence in any way, or that God commands us to endure violence without question. These deaths are not like God commanding Abraham to kill Isaac. These killings are not primarily a test of our faithfulness, they are a result of the fall.

 

Nor do I believe that in the midst of these killings that we ought to curse God. God is not an agent of evil. In fact, I do not believe we will find an answer to these evils apart from God. As I mentioned above, it is nearly impossible to look into the eyes of a cancer patient and say, “take heart, God has overcome the world.” That sentiment would seem to attempt to diminish their pain without actually implementing any treatment. No, even as we believe in God’s power to heal cancer, we still believe chemo therapy plays a part. Medical treatment can be God’s agent of healing. We still go under the surgeon’s knife, believing the surgeon to be guided by God to effectively heal. Like Solomon, we pray for wisdom. In the same way, even as we pray for God to end systematic racism, islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and other evils, we must also actively fight for a cure, to examine our own lives and eradicate the evils we see in our actions and beliefs. These fears and this discord are the diseases of which the body of our society is dying.

 

I lament these injustices and strive to do all in my power to fight them. When I read about the taking of black bodies, when I read about killings in Orlando night clubs, and as I fear for the safety of refugees seeking comfort, solace, and protection on my country’s shore, I cry out for Jesus to return and restore. I don’t want him to resurrect America, but to resurrect our hearts. To restore our disposition toward our neighbors that has somehow morphed from the love we were meant to offer into a fear we must learn to abandon. Like Mary and Martha, we must believe that if God came to our rescue now, oppression and injustice would end, and yet, we must still accept him at whatever time and in whatever posture he comes. We must realize that, even if he feels distant, God mourns with us. That as hard as this present suffering is, and as avoidable as it seems, we must believe that God wishes for us to maintain faith and belief in him.

 

He weeps with us now, he will restore our relationships, and he will raise us from the dead in due time. Even in these impossibly dark times and situations, we must push toward the light.[12] We must work to dismantle systems of injustice and oppression, and we must pray earnestly and eagerly for Christ’s return and the final resurrection of the dead.

Footnotes
 

[1] Matthew 27:46

[2] This is a way of looking at education, according to Plato.

[3] Romans 6:23

[4] Romans 8:1

[5] Genesis 22:8

[6] Job 1:20

[7] Job 1:21

[8] John 11:3

[9] John 11:35

[10] Unlike how the ram is provided as a response to Abraham’s obedience, Christ is provided as a response to our disobedience.

[11] John 11:25

[12] John 11:9–10

 

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Please reload

June 18, 2017

May 9, 2017

December 6, 2016

May 11, 2016

Please reload

Recent posts