Does God understand tragedy?
I have never lost a child to death, but I have sat with those who have and their pain is often so intense it is contagious. The death of a child is tragic in any circumstance.
So, I cannot even imagine what it would be like to watch a beloved child be slowly and publicly tortured to death. Not only publically in that moment, but in a way that would be memorialized and celebrated throughout history in one of the most well-known events of the world.
God needs no reminders of His Son’s death, but if He did, He would not have to look far. He could simply look for a steeple, and if there was not a memorial of the death of Jesus topping it, then He could go inside the building and most likely find a statue of the event. His Son, on an instrument of torture, marked with gashes, blood, thorns, and nails, dying in excruciating pain.
However, I don’t believe that Jesus on a cross is the most tragic part of the crucifixion.
The reason His Son died was tragic. Jesus died because the people God loved had left Him. Tragic. Jesus died as a payment to purchase them back. We deserved an eternal death for running from an eternal God, so a perfect eternal God suffered and died as a human to pay the penalty on our behalf.
Yet, the reason for Jesus’ death is not the greatest tragedy of the cross.
Today, we forget that God knows tragedy intimately. We see a dead Jesus, but forget what He represents: the Father watching His Son endure the sins of the world, slowly suffering, and dying in public humiliation.
I believe our forgetting, or forsaking that sacrifice, is the greatest tragedy of the event. The cross bleeds a forgiveness so strong that it can forgive murderers; even murderers of children, should they seek it. For some of us, that makes us angry. Not because we see that particular sin as so big, but because we don’t see that our own sin against an almighty, perfect God is a big deal. And if our sin isn’t a big deal, then grace is not a big deal. As a result, we don’t really appreciate how big and amazing His grace really is.
Tragic events can seem impossible to understand, and are certainly too difficult to endure alone. The enemy wants to use these events to push us away from God, when a right response is the exact opposite: to lean into a personal God who can relate. God understands tragedy: the death of His Son, the rejection by those He loved that caused it, and the tragic betrayal of those He died for who don't care.
God knows tragedy, and He pursues us in and through it.