There is no doubt there is suffering in the world. Indeed, it’s very nearly the defining quality of life on earth. It is through the broken hopelessness that touches each one of us that we are dragged into spiritual desolation. This oppression knows no boundaries; it does not respect the class system, wealth, race, religion, or anything else that makes each person unique. With respect to the anguish of humanity, we are all made equal. The apparent wounded nature of humanity is present in the world and can lead us to despair.
It’s often said that the Psalms are, collectively, the expression of every kind of human emotion, the good and the bad, and spiritual desolation is one of those human emotions. It could, and so often does, come to pass that even devoutly religious people feel this desolation, and they interpret it as abandonment by God. The first few lines of Psalm 22 represent this experience as such:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? You are far from my plea and the cry of my distress. Oh my God, I call by day and you give me no reply; I call by night and I find no peace.
It is true that this feeling is not only a problem for the devout. People who are irreligious still experience this feeling, and just because they do not practice the faith or perhaps disbelieve that God exists, they are not exempted from this lamentation as Psalm 22 goes on to describe:
Many dogs have surrounded me, a band of the wicked beset me. They tear holes in my hands and my feet and lay me in the dust of death. I can count every one of my bones. These people stare at me and gloat; they divide my clothing among them. They cast lots for my robe.
These are the wounds of humanity, the scars of our past, present, and future made manifest in the lives of each individual to walk the earth. If we take a moment to reflect deeply on this, to really examine our own soul, we see that the neat little veil placed over such ugly and festering wounds falls away from what it was once obscuring. The ruse we keep up for appearances breaks down when we, who built up walls around our hearts, look deeply at what we are really feeling. What turmoil! The cry of our inmost being seems to be, “Why is my pain continuous, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” (cf. Jeremiah 15:18)
But alas, we are not abandoned nor alone in our lament, for God himself shares in the anguish of humanity, he weeps over it in fact. God’s eyes stream with tears without ceasing over the incurable wound afflicting humanity, which is represented in Jeremiah 14:15 as “the virgin daughter”. God, therefore, hears our cries and is not there to simply listen and empathize with us; he takes action! That action, of course, was and is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Lamb of God.
Through the passion and death of Christ, God has taken into himself the wounds of humanity. Out of love for his “virgin daughter”, he has stepped in and taken on her wounds to relieve her of her suffering. Through the Incarnation, God himself is with us under the oppression of our wounded nature, yoked side-by-side with his beloved children lightening the burden for us. The ordeal of Jesus’ crucifixion carries with it all the pain of every person’s woundedness and suffering. He assumed our humanity and healed our wounds by bearing them himself.
This, of course, is much more than we deserve, but true love keeps no record of wrongs, and there is no greater love than that of God for his creation which is embodied in the perfect union of the Trinity. We, on the other hand, are not yet perfected and therefore have recourse to doubt that this immense and unfathomable reality has been made to be true, but in John 20:27, we hear our answer, “Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be un-believing, but believe.'” We are invited not to shy away from these wounds, but to touch them so that we may believe; yet even though we come into direct contact with them and experience them first hand, they are not our wounds, they are Christ’s.
Thus, the wounds of humanity do not belong to us. They have been purchased at the highest cost by the One who created us. Therefore, we do not have the right to hold onto our wounds or to carry them ourselves. We must raise them up to the Lord, the rightful owner of humanity’s pain. All we really have is the joy that God has given us in place of our scars; each mark on the Paschal Lamb transformed into a smile of thanksgiving on the children of God whose ransom has been paid one hundred-fold by the Lord. How, then, could we believe that God has forsaken us, that he does not hear our pleas. He knows our suffering because he himself has borne the afflictions of mankind.