Liberation: A Poem for Sufferers

Joshua Pauling
Thursday, April 4th 2024
A snowy landscape that is being erased into a beautiful sunset with a river and green trees.
Mar/Apr 2024

There is a now and not yet,
you see, let us not forget
that we are counted as sheep.
Be stoic? No, freely weep
and cry, yet hold our only
hope to be completely free.
Sufferings and scars entail
On this narrow bliss-bound trail.

Theodicy, the problem of evil:
Why do bad things happen to good people?
But since the Fall goodness isn’t in us.
Turn the question around, Scripture tells us:
Why do good things happen to bad people?
Now that is the real problem of evil.
But curt answers won’t cut it when suff’ring,
Scripture brings us a more merciful thing.

The bloodied God, and on a bloodied Cross.
Into his real body comes evil, loss.
While we can’t discern Providence’s hand
We can see love in the suff’ring God-Man.
Here is God’s answer to theodicy,
Revealing scandalous love and mercy.

The mind of God is quite a thing
to which advice we cannot bring.
No, fully we don’t understand
why this is what God has planned,
and in his sovereign will he chose,
to give you burdens more than most
Under which many would’ve crumbled
years ago. I grumbled,
“Liberation! When will it come?”
All creation now groans for home.

As we yet still grumble as one
for vindication of the Son
remember the now and not yet.
Now is the pain, do not forget.
First Christ’s agony, then glory.
Glory awaits us in our story,
when God will take away the pain,
and wipe away all crimson stain,
redeem our bodies, heal our spines,
unveil our eyes, and fix our minds.

Yes, God surely is working in you,
Christ’s cross, resurrection proves it true.
And though, through the furnace God does bring,
May we yet praise him and truly sing
with soft hearts and bodies not yet whole,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Photo of Joshua Pauling
Joshua Pauling
Joshua Pauling is a classical educator, furniture-maker, and vicar at All Saints Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Charlotte, North Carolina. He studied at Messiah College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Winthrop University. In addition to Modern Reformation, Josh has written for Areo, FORMA, Front Porch Republic, Mere Orthodoxy, Public Discourse, Quillette, Salvo, The Imaginative Conservative, Touchstone, and is a frequent guest on Issues, Etc. radio show/podcast.
Thursday, April 4th 2024

“Modern Reformation has championed confessional Reformation theology in an anti-confessional and anti-theological age.”

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