Friday of the fourth week of Lent
The readings for the day can be found here.
What does it mean to assert, as the Psalms do, that God hears and delivers the righteous out of all their troubles? Does it mean that the righteous never suffer? That those who suffer must not be righteous? That there’s a perfect equation between unrighteousness and pain, righteousness and pleasure? Even the most cursory familiarity with human history—and, indeed, biblical history more particularly—would disprove the point. How, then, ought the righteous to respond in the face of suffering? What, in other words, has faith to do with affliction? It seems to me that the readings from both Wisdom and John suggest something of a response to these perennial questions of theodicy. At the very least, both readings suggest something of how the righteous ought not to respond in the face of suffering (as well as the more fundamental point that righteousness and suffering are not mutually exclusive). The meeting between faith and affliction, suggest both Wisdom and John, takes place not on the plane of knowing, of evidence, of incontrovertible proof, but instead on the plane of a quiet confidence in “the secret purposes of God” which remain hidden to both the righteous and unrighteous alike.
Mary Dunn is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies.