|Miriam. Image credit.|
One of the privileges I have as a college professor is that I teach a class called the Christian View of the Human Person, and the students have an option to write religious autobiographies. Sometimes these autobiographies are wrenching, other times, joyful, other times, seeking. But often, they are touching. Like this one: a couple of days ago, one of my students wrote–after a litany of real challenges in her young life–“But thank God: we have a God who fights for us.”
We have a God who fights for us. I immediately thought of Miriam’s triumphant song in Exodus, “The Lord is a warrior; The Lord is His name.” We have a God who–for us–fights. I’ve never thought of the warrior language in particularly positive ways before; at best, it’s not my preferred image of God. But it’s a true image. It’s just that the fighting is not violent, not power-over. Our God fights for us like a physician saving a dying patient, a lover wooing to win his love’s attention, a father seeking a child lost in the woods, a teacher using every trick to help the student learn the lesson. Like a God who is willing to take every measure, short of taking away our will, to lure us into healing relationship with him. Even becoming human and dying on a cross.
St. Therese de Lisieux, in her autobiography Story of a Soul, tries to explain why she was preserved from being a great sinner, since she feels it was through no merit of her own. I can’t find the passage (feel free to tell me where it is!) but her thrust is that she felt she was in some way preserved from sin, received mercy before she could even commit the acts of sin. I see some unusual relevance here. What if the Lord fights for us, even before we sin? What would that look like?
Well, it would look like the Theology of the Body. Original humanity, before the fall, was given the gift of the sign of the ensouled body. Our bodies speak a primordial language that points to God, before a single word of revelation is handed down. That sign was created by God. That was God fighting for us, giving us direction, before we even stepped into the abyss. But the fighting is not violent. It is not brutish. It is gift.
The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him. “The LORD is a warrior; The LORD is His name. (Exo 15:2-3)