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Paradox (of Suffering and Freedom)

“Within the tragedy of a loss or crisis there is a real possibility to move away from the limited God we have created, and a life we may be merely existing within, to an experience of God and life that can be real and transforming in nature. Still, admitting this and believing it at such a deep level that one can boldly act upon it are two completely different things! A life of true covenant is simple… but not easy. How do you reconcile an all-loving God with the tragedy and suffering that seem so pervasive in our lives and our world?” (Robert J. Wicks)

“Paul said, “For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13)… it reveals his [Paul’s] deep conviction that Christ’s suffering and death constituted a revelation of divine love for the world, a love into which he and his churches were now caught up; they were called to narrate to the world, in word and deed, the suffering and reconciling love of God in Christ. To suffer for others is to absorb evil and pain rather than inflict them; that was God’s way in Christ, and it became Paul’s way, too, the natural consequence of his conversion from violence as his means to justification before God…Indeed, for Paul suffering is also a prelude to glory, as crucifixion is to resurrection; shame gives way to honor in the economy of God. Just as Christ was humiliated and then exalted, in the pattern of the suffering servant of Isa 52:13-53:12, so also those who suffer with him as God’s servants will be glorified with him (Rom 8:17; Phil 3:10-11).” (Michael Gorman)

“…suffering is the one and only source of true knowledge; adversity is the mainspring of self-realization.” This interpretation of freedom in terms of suffering, on which Dostoevsky insists throughout his works, reveals the mystery of freedom as the capacity of man to embrace fully his incapacity, that is, as his ability to turn weakness into strength or rather to realize his power in weakness. This paradox is nothing other than what Paul means when he writes in 2 Cor. 12: 10 after mentioning his full acceptance of suffering: “for when I am weak, I am strong.” Human freedom, in its true meaning, abolishes the scheme “capacity versus incapacity” and replaces it with the paradox of “capacity in incapacity.” (Metropolitan John Zizioulas)

“Man’s capacity willingly to embrace suffering to the utmost point shows that even in the slavery of his fallen state he remains a person, though an unhappy one. Just as by frankly facing absence man becomes capable of faith in presence, in the same way by facing suffering and not turning away from it with the help of various “securities,” man affirms his freedom in a negative way. This is no romanticizing of suffering as there is no idealization of absence and death; these are man’s worst enemies. But the important thing in human existence is that the only way to abolish these things, the only way to conquer them, is freedom, and this implies freedom to undergo them. The Cross is the only way to the Resurrection, and this does not take away from the Cross its utter shame and repulsiveness.” (Metropolitan John Zizioulas)

“The paradox of suffering and evil is resolved in the experience of compassion and love.” (Nicolas Berdyaev)

#RobertJWicks #MichaelGorman #MetropolitanJohnZizioulas #NicolasBerdyaev

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