Father Richard reminds us that while we are invited to be in solidarity with the pain of others, God carries all pain:
Many people rightly question how there can be a good God or a just God in the presence of so much evil and suffering in the world—about which God appears to do nothing. Exactly how is God loving and sustaining what God created? That is our dilemma.
I believe—if I am to believe Jesus—that God is suffering love. If we are created in God’s image, and if there is so much suffering in the world, then God must also be suffering. How else can we understand the revelation of the cross and that the central Christian logo is a naked, bleeding, suffering man?
Many of the happiest and most peaceful people I know love a crucified God who walks with crucified people, and thus reveals and redeems their plight as his own. For them, Jesus does not observe human suffering from a distance; he is somehow in human suffering, with us and for us.
The suffering that we carry is our solidarity with the one, universal longing of all humanity, and thus it can teach us great compassion and patience with both ourselves and others. Some mystics even go so far as to say that there is only one suffering; it is all the same, and it is all the suffering of God (see Colossians 1:24).
Episcopal priest Stephanie Spellers helps us understand how our one “entwined” suffering spurs us to take action in solidarity:
Solidarity is love crossing the borders drawn by self-centrism, in order to enter into the situation of the other, for the purpose of mutual relationship and struggle that heals us all and enacts God’s beloved community.
Solidarity is the voice that finally comprehends: “You are not the same as me, but part of you lives in me. Your freedom and mine were always inextricably entwined. Now I see it, and because of what I see, I choose to live differently. I will go there, with you, for your sake and for my own.”. . .
Latina theologian Ada María Isasi-Díaz [1943–2012] sums up solidarity as “the union of kindred persons” who work together toward “the unfolding of the ‘kin-dom’ of God.”  The bottom line is not who wins or loses the struggle, or even who secures enough allies to flip the power dynamic. Isasi-Díaz wants us to see that the loving, sacrificial friendship at the heart of solidarity is itself the antidote to sin and oppression.
Domination, control, and self-or group-centric behavior alienate and separate us from God, from each other, and from ourselves as beloved children of God. By contrast, embracing union with oppressed and despised peoples, placing any privilege you hold at the disposal of the movement to dismantle oppression and alienation and to restore balance and wholeness to human community—this solidary love is how we most closely and faithfully follow Jesus and join him in beloved community. 
 Ada María Isasi-Díaz, “Solidarity: Love of Neighbor in the 21st Century,” in Lift Every Voice: Constructing Christian Theologies from the Underside, ed. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite and Mary Potter Engel, rev. ed. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1998), 32.
 Stephanie Spellers, The Church Cracked Open: Disruption, Decline and New Hope for Beloved Community (New York: Church Publishing, 2021), 107, 109.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016), 120, 122.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard on how suffering can’t be carried alone.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Jenna Keiper, Wire (detail), 2021, photograph, New Mexico, used with permission. Paul Thompson, Untitled Icons (detail), 2021, video still, New Mexico. Jenna Keiper, Wire II (detail), 2021, photograph, New Mexico, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States.
This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: When the weight of the suffering of the world closes around us, we can easily feel suffocated from the grief and pain. What would happen if in these moments we reached out to connect with others? In grief and pain, together. Not alone. Together.
Story from Our Community:
Deep bow… to the early light, / And the new day, / And the good night / To all creatures large and small / To the Mastermind who loves us all / Deep bow to the morning new / To the sacred silence / And the holy view / From the deepest deep / From where grace flows / To the highest high / Where all things know / In The quiet calm / In the here and now / All hearts beat together.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.