wrath

October 10, 2013

last night I wrote something on bonesetting.

there is an image in my head of the correct way to deform a person: you take a child, and as they grow, you repeatedly break each of their bones. you take a baseball bat and systematically pulverize their limbs in multiple places, and crush and rebend their fingers. you pull their joints from their sockets, stamp hard on their face, and carefully crack each rib with a brick. and then you let them regrow into the angles you shaped with the bat, the brick, the stick of wood, and when their arm starts growing and healing again, this time in the opposite direction, you break it a second time so it zigzags back on itself. and when it begins to heal and grow this way, because the body has a marvellous capacity for adapting to its circumstances, you break it once again so it points to a new place. you can continue indefinitely like this. it is, I have decided, the best way to make a monster. and if you keep on doing this, if you cultivate this body like a bonsai tree, eventually you may shape something so mutilated it is barely recognizeable as human, as it continues to grow in the ways you have taught it to grow with your knife and your bat and your tire iron.

eventually, you may even succeed so well in your work that when it sees itself healing again, it will automatically break its own fingers. it may be attempting to correct what you’ve done; it may be attempting to perpetuate what it already is, to continue in the way it has been grown and broken and grown wrong. who knows? monsters aren’t reasonable. they’re just angry.

 

this is the reason I understand and appreciate the wrath of God. I was thinking this today; this is why the fury, the inconsolable, terrible anger of God is right, and gladdens and warms me with its enormous, implacable burning. I’m aware that people may find the wrath and hatred of God to be incompatible with the love of God; I don’t see that. The love of God is the wrath of God. It is the same thing.

I don’t know if you understand how very angry I am. I’m not sure you know. I have been very, very angry for a very long time; sometimes I remember it, sometimes I don’t, but it has been with me for years. at the very bottom of my breathing is rage. for what was taken from me, for what I was made into, for what was destroyed, for the loss of what I could have been, for what I am now. for the thing I became. I learned to be inhuman, and to perpetuate my inhumanity; I learned to live wanting death. I was systematically damaged until I grew wrong, and I continue now to grow wrong, and I do not know if I will ever really cease to grow in the ways I have learned to grow, new creation or not. and the injustice of what was done to me makes me burn with rage. this is why divine wrath gladdens me.

God is incandescent with rage.

God rages for me. It is the right, it is the only response to evil of any and every kind. God hates, because evil deforms and breaks and makes wrong what was good, because sin makes monsters out of small children, because the ones he loves are broken and destroyed and mutilated and left to live in that mutilation; because what was true and good was made immensely wrong. How do I explain this kind of anger, unless you’ve felt it yourself? How can I explain how absolutely abhorrent evil is, and how absolutely right it is to burn with fury because of it, because of all it breaks and all it ruins? I cannot emphasise enough how enormously angry God is at injustice and evil, and how much it reassures and comforts me. Because for all the things that have been done to me, for all the things I burn with anger for, for all the ways I have been broken, God blazes with incandescent rage and vengeance and fury, and I know that is love

God hates absolutely, because he loves absolutely. This is what love does: it hates what destroys, robs and deforms the ones it loves. When you hold some things as infinitely precious, you will hate whatever destroys or harms those things. A man will kill to protect his children.

When I think of love as an affectionate thing, as a thing that reaches out to heal and save and bless and give extravagantly, as a thing warm like the sun that grows and gives light, fond and generous, I find it much harder to believe that God loves me. I cannot wholly trust or believe in this kind of affection from God, although in some ways I believe more than I say I do. But I have not seen it often enough to understand, and I have felt the absence and silence of God in the places where I have needed him to save, or heal, or bless. I can, however, understand and believe his anger, and it is breathtaking. I know that God loves me when I know that God blazes righteous with fury and indignation and terrible judgement. Because these injustices need judging, and more than that- they need absolute condemnation. Because they are wrong.

that is why the judgement of God is the mercy of God. Mercy for the broken, and the lost, and the battered, and the small. It is saying I see what has been done to you, and it is not alright. It is not alright at all. This is why the psalmist cries out for vengeance against his enemies; this is why the saints in Revelation cry out for judgement and blood. the love of God is implacable hatred against everything that hurts what he loves, and that is the righteousness of God, and the judgement of God, and the absolute goodness of God. This is what I understand, and believe, and can trust.

 

 

 

(… alright, this is also why the atonement of Jesus matters: on him, all the hatred and fury and anger of God was laid, and he was punished for all the damage and the deformity and the evil that was done to me and to you and to everyone. and all the damage and the deformity and the evil that we have done. this is why forgiveness can and does occur. but this was only necessary because God is also a God of anger, which is a very good thing indeed.)

 

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