Since I started watching Chrono Crusade, I’ve been impressed by the bits and pieces of Christianity that popped up in episodes. While they may function as quasi-religious story elements (Evangelion, anyone?), these pieces are still often true and sometimes used in context. At the same time, I’ve also been underwhelmed, particularly by the characters whose thoughts and actions better resembled 7-year-olds than grown-ups. So it’s an understatement to say I was surprised by the power of episode 7, “Devil,” and by the important question it brought up: What of God’s silence?
In this episode, the villain, Aion, only hitherto discussed, appears for the first time. In a matter of minutes, I went from rolling my eyes at what I saw as a typical bad guy to really feeling a sort of dread. He was almost precisely what I expected out of a Satanic figure. Aion openly questions God and through reasonable and almost unarguable statements, using personal experience against our heroes (this is reminiscent of Job) and sheer physical power, Aion overwhelms Rosette, Chrono, and the others.
Most of his lecture to the group fighting him isn’t about the existence of God – this is a given in the series – it has to do with what might be a more troubling question – in this moment of great pain (and in others in the characters’ pasts), why has God not answered? Why has He let His children suffer?
This question is nothing new. I’m reminded of a woman who angrily challenged evangelist Ray Comfort during a town hall-type setting, asking why God would allow people to die of cancer. Why is it that in these moments of severe pain that God often doesn’t cure us?
In fact, during the Chrono Crusade episode, I thought of even more painful situations – those affecting more people. The emotions of those involved and the heaviness of the events, emphasized particularly by Aion’s brutalizing of Chrono (broken neck?), somehow made my thoughts more serious. They were taken to Shusaku Endo’s masterpiece, Silence, in which missionaries were forced to recant their belief, or else be the reason why Japanese Christians were put through horrible torture until they died. The question in the book was the same as Aion’s – where was God in all this?
I don’t want to be a know-it-all or to patronize those who have gone through very difficult times. I’ve been blessed to live a relatively comfortable life, so I don’t know how I would react to the worst of circumstances. So I’ll say this is what I believe, from one so far unchallenged. The answer is complex and one I don’t fully understand – but it is also simple:
God is with us and God is not silent.
Christians largely believe that God speaks to us. Though Theophanies and Christophanies are uncommon, most Christians I know believe that God speaks to use through the Bible, through prayer and otherwise in thought, and through other people’s words. While it may not necessarily ever be “easy” to hear God’s voice, it’s easier to find it in good times than in bad. But even in harsh times, God is unchanging – He remains the same.
The world is a dangerous and often awful place. Miracles are not common (and even many professing Christians don’t believe they occur), and as such, it means that many will unfairly suffer. And in these circumstances, God speaks – maybe not audibly, but certainly in our past experiences with Him and in what we know of Him in scripture. Particularly, we may remember that God knows both the pain of losing a son and in the person of Christ, the pain of being abandoned by the Father (and world) as he was tortured to death.
Of course, what we know and what we do are two different things. Like a child so angry that he yells over the voice of a soothing parent, I lose my cool and forget the words of God when I become irate. It’s in these times that I hope one day I’ll shut up and listen…and “in the quite, hear [His] voice.” And I hope the same for you, especially in the storms of life.