“Even those who weep and know not why are laying claim to God’s fatherhood in the depth of their being. In all human tears is contact of the human soul with the great human soul of God” (George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons). When I first read these lines by MacDonald, I identified with his idea that we “weep and know not why.” That describes me during the first four decades of my life. Yes, my marriage and life were difficult at times, but that didn’t really explain my despair. Sometimes, feeling so empty and inadequate, I’d just sit in a room alone, flooded in tears.
And, though I’ve never really thought of God as having a “human soul,” as MacDonald describes here, it does seem to me that our relationship with God is centered in our soul, where we feel our human anguish. MacDonald is also right when he writes that we have an “eternal need” for God, a need to claim “our birthright.” As Jesus prays in one of his last prayers for his followers: “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (NRSV John 17: 25-26).
This natural life is filled with unfairness and despair, so there will be tears. Jesus wept, for example, when he heard that Lazarus had died (John 11:35), and he also wept when he saw the condition of the people in Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). Peter wept when he realized that he’d denied Jesus three times—something he no doubt believed he’d never do (Mark 14:72).
What we now are assured of, what Christ’s coming is ever showing us, is that we aren’t created to be isolated, self-existent beings, weeping alone inside ourselves, separated from the Father’s love and forgiveness. Rather, the Christ spirit in each human heart and the living Saviour’s sustaining and strengthening presence by our side are forever binding us into the “great human soul of God.” We are never alone. (Driving into the Dawn, chapter 8)
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