For the moment, (pending further reorganisation of my theology) I'm operating on the basis of my previous conviction that God does indeed suffer. Despite David's compelling case, I'm not at all sure that he doesn't, and in any case I'd rather be heretical than unkind, I think. I do realise that this is a risky path to tread, which might lead to places far better unvisited,- but there's not alot of point in having my doctrines all beautifully polished and arranged in rows if there's not enough love in evidence, is there?
I spent this afternoon with a mother who is suffering from panic attacks and long-term depression, following a period of truly Job-like disasters, and there it was clear that for her, only a suffering God could help. She already has more than enough sense of a remote figure who is far too important to be bothered with the likes of her, but talking to her about a God who watched his Son going through unutterable pain made some sort of connection possible. Part of her agony relates to her own children, whom she fears she is damaging through her illness (and of course, that fear does little to speed her recovery)...so for her, I was glad to turn to Vanstone once again
"Thou art God; no monarch thou
Throned in easy state to reign;
Thou art God, whose arms of love
Aching, spent, the world sustain."
Together we placed S. and all her family in those arms, and for a moment or two she seemed peaceful as she rested in their embrace.