One place that I find God is in my reading. One of my favorite theological authors is Jürgen Moltmann. While I am emerged in one of Moltmann’s books I feel that Gos is with me. Here is a little about Moltmann. During the Second World War, as an 18-year-old German, Jürgen Moltmann, was drafted to serve in Hitler’s army. Assigned to an anti-aircraft battery, he experienced the horror of watching fellow soldiers being incinerated in fire bombings. After surrendering to the British, he spent three years in prison camps, and saw how other German prisoners “collapsed inwardly, how they gave up all hope, sickening for the lack of it, some of them dying.”
Moltmann had not grown up as a Christian, but an American chaplain gave him an Army-issue New Testament and book of Psalms, signed by President Roosevelt. He read the Psalms and found something he desperately needed: hope. He became convinced that God was present with him, “Even behind the barbed wire.” After being transferred to a camp run by the YMCA, Moltmann learned Christian beliefs, and experienced the love and the acceptance of the local population. They “treated me better than the German army,” he told journalist Philip Yancey.
Jürgen Moltmann found new life in Christ after seeing only death in the Second World War. The gospel was life-giving good news for him, as it is for us as well.
But wait, there’s more. The risen Christ was moving ahead of Moltmann, leading him into an unexpected future. After the war, Moltmann became a Christian theologian and focused on the ideas that God is present with us in our suffering, and that God is leading us to a better future. Both ideas come out of the story of Jesus, and both come out of Moltmann’s personal story as well. Easter Sunday is the beginning of the “laughter of the redeemed,” he says; it is “God’s protest against death.” God is not satisfied with the way the world is today, and God intends to make all things new in Christ.
In his book, Jesus Christ for Today’s World, Moltmann points out that, “Christ’s sufferings are not exclusive: they are not just his sufferings. They are inclusive, our sufferings too and the sufferings of the time in which we are living. His cross stands between our crosses, our brother’s cross, as a sign that God himself participates in our suffering and takes our pains on himself. The suffering Son of Man is so much one of us that the unnumbered and unnamed, tortured and forsaken human beings are his brothers and sisters.”
Quoting Jon Sobrino’s biography of Archbishop Romero of El Salvador Moltmann writes: “In the crucified people of history the crucified God became present to him. In the eyes of the poor and oppressed of his people he saw the disfigured face of God.” Moltmann then elaborates, “No suffering can cut us off from this companionship of the God who suffers with us. The God of Jesus Christ is the God who is on the side of the victims and the sufferers, in solidarity with them.”
When speaking of Good Friday and Easter Sunday Jürgen Moltmann said, “God weeps with us so that we may someday laugh with him.” Through the years Moltmann has inspired me through his words and enlightened me in my walk of faith in Jesus.
As you travel on you daily journey amongst the suffering of the world and your own suffering. May you know that God in Christ suffers with you. May you experience the hope and joy found in the cross and the empty tomb. And may you share that hope we have in Jesus with someone who needs to hear it. May the hope we have in Christ guide us all of our days.