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Photo taken of an orphan girl in Latvia

The nobleman Cassius says to Brutus “The Fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” This line from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar is where John Green came up with the title of his blockbuster novel “Fault in Our Stars.”

The story tells of two teenagers who are dying. One of them has lost the normal function of her lungs. One has lost the normal function of his leg. They meet in a cancer support group. They come together in the “literal heart of Jesus” which is chairs circling a rug with the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in a church basement.

The teens struggle through empty platitudes and meaningless phrases in trying to come to terms with their own mortality. Hazel Grace lives a minimal life before encountering Gus. She keeps everyone at a safe distance for fear of hurting them with the life she has been given.

One of the most powerful lines of the novel is expressed when Gus, in response to the hurt and suffering they are enduring, says, “Pain demands to be felt.” In a world where we try to minimize pain, reduce pain, or ignore pain it is a teenager in a book written for young adult readers that remind us that pain demands to be felt.

It has been said by some that Christianity is a defense mechanism. But I love William Sloane Coffin’s response, “It is often said that the Church is a crutch. Of course it’s a crutch. What makes you think you don’t limp?” We can live in denial and say we don’t limp. But the truth is we all limp. We are all broken. We all have our issues.

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). Maybe the first step in finding God is to admit that we are all limping. If you need to call Christianity a crutch, then so be it. 

Pain does demand to be felt. And Christ has felt it. He has taken our pain. It is only through his death and resurrection can we claim the promise of Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former tings have passed away.”

 

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