That’s what “Mitch” Larsen wants to know, too.
Now that I’ve started in on Season 1 of AMC’s The Killing, Netflix can’t send the DVDs fast enough. The series weaves together three story lines around a single murder: the suspects, the detectives, and the victim's grieving family.
It’s rare for this genre to give such heart-rending attention to a murder victim’s survivors. In one scene, the grieving mother, “Mitch” Larsen, joins her husband, Stanley, at the Catholic church to plan the funeral. The scene begins with the mother taking a long look at the crucifix while her husband and the priest plan the service. The camera shows Mitch taking in Christ's wounds--the nails in hands and feet, the wound from the spear, the pricks of a crown of thorns pressed into his scalp. As the meeting wraps up, the priest offers some canned reassurance that their daughter is with God. Mitch absorbs this for a moment and then rejects it: "Where was God when my daughter was scared and alone?" The priest awkwardly stares at the anguished mom, apparently caught by surprise at this age-old question. The scene ends as husband and wife walk away one way and the priest another.
Though I’m a fan of the show, it’s too bad the writers staged a priestly character who was nothing more than a two-dimensional foil for Mitch’s heart-broken anger. I doubt a church leader of his gray-headed experience would have been so trite with his “comfort” and so befuddled with a mother’s cries.
But even if the TV show’s priest didn’t have a word of comfort for her, the writers supplied the Christian answer to her questions. It was at the start of the scene, as Mitch scanned the symbol of our faith's central story: the crucifixion.
Christianity teaches that God actually entered in to our broken world in order to redeem it. Here’s how the late John Stott put it in his marvelous book, The Cross of Christ:
I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross….In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in Godforsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his. There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross that symbolizes divine suffering.Beautiful!
In light of that truth, there’s a better editing for the above scene from The Killing. How about this:
Meditating on “Wounded Love and Bleeding Mercy” is the only way forward when life falls apart.