Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Rubik's cube, Mother Teresa and suffering

In 1982 I tore open the Christmas paper on a small box, and something magical fell onto the patterned carpet. This cube of hidden meaning, it's secrets known only to a few with special knowledge - this stuff of the philosophers stone or Da Vinci code - the Rubik's cube!
Everyone had one for a while, they were all the rage after we had outgrown our chopper bikes and space hoppers. Nerdy kids on Saturday morning telly became household names for completing the Rubik's cube in 13 seconds, before most of us had even worked out which way up we were holding it!

The basic premise of the Rubik's cube was to mess it up, then try and put it right. Each face of the cube needed to be restored to its rightful colour. Sounds easy right? No - I think I managed one side, but then each move you made to correct the other colours messed up the good work you had already done. It drove me mad. I resorted ultimately to cheating. Taking a blunt knife from the kitchen drawer, I prised the thing apart, dozens of small cubes scattering around the room, then collected them up, and pressed them back onto the central mechanism in the right order.

When we think about the big question of evil and suffering in the world we are presented with a similar picture in the bible, this idea that we are out of relationship with the God who made us. Indeed, the whole created order is totally dislocated. Like a Rubiks's cube which no one has been able to solve, maybe it never will.

However, the big story of the bible also offers a breathtaking solution to the problem. The God who came and suffered and died amongst us.
When the stone to the tomb was rolled away, Jesus emerges alive! He overcomes death, goes through it like a pioneer and we begin to get a glimpse of future hope for us and all creation which is realigned.
Jesus promises us : ‘I am making all things new.’ No tears, no pain, no sin, no death or suffering – winter is coming to an end, spring is coming. A new creation is arriving, a new order of things, it’s already broken in!

Jesus resurrection guarantees this realignment of all that has been out of joint. It enables us to hear the hard but incredible words : ‘Our present suffering is light and momentary compared to what’s in store in eternity with those who know God.’

Mother Teresa put it this way : ‘In the light of heaven, the most awful suffering on earth will seem like one awful night in a bad hotel.’

This great insight from a lady who probably never experienced the frustration of a Rubik's cube, but she did know a thing or two about suffering and pain. And it's to the broken world of Mother Teresa that the Saviour brings a solution. Not just to endure this messed up world stoically, but to allow God Himself to be messed up in order that we could be put back together. The Saviour of the world invites us to follow him into a Rubik's like transformation of our own lives which begins to bring order and purpose out of the chaos.

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