The redemptive meaning of suffering manifests solely in contemplation of the crucified God.
Emily Stimpson’s self-reflective observations about her own reaction yesterday to those gruesome images of mutilated babies killed in abortions brought me back to a consistent image.
what I saw weren’t just body parts and pools of red. I saw a baby—bloody and broken, but a baby nevertheless. I saw a baby with a sweet little face, a button nose, full lips, and the most delicate of fingers. I saw a baby who was so tiny, so beautiful, so dead.
Much to my surprise, I wasn’t repulsed. I wasn’t disgusted. I was simply heartbroken. I couldn’t stop the tears. I wanted so badly to hold that little baby. I wanted to love her and kiss her and tell she was beautiful. I wanted to find out who she was and who she could be, to discover how, in what unrepeatable way, she imaged God. All I really wanted was to know that baby, as I’m sure, in some way, in her heart of hearts, her mother must have wanted to know her too.
I don’t like to look at those images myself. But Emily’s reflection caused me to re-evaluate why. It is because I find them needlessly graphic; terribly sad; almost gratuitous.
Then I thought, isn’t that what many said of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ? Isn’t that the reality of what we do to our own soul and to the God who died for each of our sins each time we sin?
I keep coming back to this image because it gives me hope. The caption translates to “for God so loved the world,” but note that in the image, Jesus is weeping.
He is not weeping for his own plight, though he knows the full extent of the gruesome mutilation he shall soon endure. He is weeping for me, and for you, and for each of the babies mercilessly slaughtered by abortion. In his tears he is saying, “won’t you change and be different?”
In his suffering he gazes at us through living eyes full of love, wanting us to know Him and know His heart. Wanting us to love one another as he loves each of us. Christ compels us to look back at him and in so doing stare our sin in the face, to “look upon me whom they have pierced.”
These gruesome images of aborted babies surely put forth the awful reality of abortion, a societal scourge. I can appreciate them for that. I believe they can be a powerful reminder of what abortion does, and to whom. I agree with the thought that they are not appropriate in all situations and for all people; but then, not all are able or willing to understand the absurdity of the cross.
In the end, the only hope is that the beautiful souls of those killed in abortion rest with the Lord; that they pray perpetually for us on earth who have not ended the awful practice of abortion; that we may realize that such awful reality, and the reality of all sin, is not the end but is rather the precursor to experiencing the awesome merciful forgiveness of the Lord.
And, of course, that we might finally end abortion and all practices that violate life and love.