Gun violence, attacks on Asian-Americans, and coronavirus deaths speak to the suffering that is real in America today. Deeply personal and yet, at the same time, universal suffering. In this moment, we have every right to ask the question, “Where is God in all of this?” How could God “let this happen?”

In St. Mark’s Gospel, Jesus cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Out of his sense of personal suffering, he asks where God is; and he answers his own question by declaring his own abandonment by God. For those of us who believe that Jesus of Nazareth was also the Son of God, we have to ask ourselves what it means for the Son of God to feel the absence of God the Father?

As I see it, Jesus did not escape the experience of being fully human under the most dire of circumstances. It is out of the conviction that God’s reality was ruptured by the pain of being fully human; and continues to be ruptured by the devastating impact of human suffering and loss that I use the term, “Cruciform places” to describe the physical, spiritual and the psychical places where profound loss is felt the most. To the question, “Where is God in all of this?” I say, “God is with those who suffer and in every aching heart that longs for healing and peace.”

Onward into Holy Week!