We are wounded by God because in being touched by Him we have been opened to a whole new way of living and seeing the world. Opened in this way we respond by going out of ourselves, offering ourselves up. As St. John of the Cross puts it “…after wounding me;/ I went out calling you, but you were gone.” These wounds then are wounds of love, of openness to the Other.
Such openness takes the form of a wound because we are not yet able to fully embrace God while we remain in sin and imperfect. There is no other way: We must be open to God before we can be filled by God.
As we come closer to Him, however, our wounds only worsen, as it were, as the dross of sin is melted away from our souls.
Not exactly what we hear from the televangelists, from the name it and claim it crowd, the prosperity gospel-arians, the well coiffed get rich quick theologians, all who flood the airwaves with their heretical bottom-of-the-birdcage-make-Jesus-your-Savior-and-be-happy claptrap.
If I've learned anything about faith, orthodox, traditional, historic faith (and not the sort of shallow, Hallmark sentimentalism too many are selling and too many more, so very sadly, are buying), is that faith can in fact be most painful.
Beale's piece should be read in its entirety to get a better flavor of what this means as I'm ill-equipped to do this justice but the bottom line is pretty simple.
Faith that lasts, faith that overcomes, faith that sustains, perseveres and eventually brings the greatest of comfort is faith that comes paradoxically from wrestling with God and from the pain God allows to happen in our lives. It's the faith taught by the Saints and especially by their lives. It's the faith passed down over the ages. The faith taught by the Church. It's the faith we all seek though many of us unknowingly, even blindly.
Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic letter titled Salvifici Doloris (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering), wrote:
A source of joy is found in the overcoming of the sense of the uselessness of suffering, a feeling that is sometimes very strongly rooted in human suffering. This feeling not only consumes the person interiorly but seems to make him a burden to others. The person feels condemned to receive help and assistance from others and at the same time seems useless to himself. The discovery of the salvific meaning of suffering in union with Christ transforms this depressing feeling. Faith in sharing in the suffering of Christ brings with it the interior certainty that the suffering person "completes what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions"; the certainty that in the spiritual dimension of the work of redemption he is serving, like Christ, the salvation of his brothers and sisters. Therefore he is carrying out an irreplaceable service. (SD 27)
I've not yet suffered like a Saint. I hope in fact to never have to but I'm conforted by the fact that should Saintly suffering come, I'm enmeshed in the faith they used to overcome it.
God help all who suffer see You in that suffering and might they be sustained by that seeing.