We cannot always or even often control events, but we can control how we respond to them. When things happen which dismay or appall, we ought to look to God for His meaning, remembering that He is not taken by surprise nor can His purposes be thwarted in the end. What God looks for is those who will worship Him. Our look of inquiring trust glorifies Him.
Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ. Who can describe the [blessed] bond of the love of God? What man is able to tell the excellence of its beauty, as it ought to be told? The height to which love exalts is unspeakable. Love unites us to God. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love beareth all things, is long-suffering in all things.12 There is nothing base, nothing arrogant in love. Love admits of no schisms: love gives rise to no seditions: love does all things in harmony. By love have all the elect of God been made perfect; without love nothing is well-pleasing to God. In love has the Lord taken us to Himself. On account of the Love he bore us, Jesus Christ our Lord gave His blood for us by the will of God; His flesh for our flesh, and His soul for our souls.
—1 Clement 49, ~A.D. 97
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Look at the Lord who did precisely what he commanded. After so many things … committed against him, repaying him evil for good, did he not say as he hung on the cross, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing”? … When he was praying as he hung on the cross, he could see and foresee. He could see all his enemies. He could foresee that many of them would become his friends. That is why he was interceding for them all. They were raging, but he was praying. They were saying to Pilate “Crucify,” but he was crying out, “Father, forgive.” He was hanging from the cruel nails, but he did not lose his gentleness. He was asking for pardon for those from whom he was receiving such hideous treatment.
—Augustine, Sermon 382.2
We strongly reject, therefore, every explanation of the death of Christ which does not have at its centre the principle of ‘satisfaction through substitution’, indeed divine self-satisfaction through divine self-substitution. The cross was not a commercial bargain with the devil, let alone one which tricked and trapped him; nor an exact equivalent, a quid pro quo to satisfy a code of honour or technical point of law; nor a compulsory submission by God to some moral authority above Him from which He could not otherwise escape; nor a punishment of a meek Christ by a harsh and punitive Father; nor a procurement of salvation by a loving Christ from a mean and reluctant Father; nor an action of the Father which bypassed Christ as Mediator. Instead, the righteous, loving Father humbled Himself to become in and through His only Son flesh, sin and a curse for us, in order to redeem us without compromising his own character. The theological words ‘satisfaction’ and ‘substitution’ need to be carefully defined and safeguarded, but they cannot in any circumstances be given up. The biblical gospel of atonement is of God satisfying Himself by substituting Himself for us.
– John Stott
“Too late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient and so new, too late have I loved you! Behold, you were within me, while I was outside: it was there that I sought you, and, a deformed creature, rushed headlong upon these things of beauty which you have made. You were with me, but I was not with you. They kept me far from you, those fair things which, if they were not in you, would not exist at all. You have called to me, and have cried out, and have shattered my deafness. You have blazed forth with light, and have shone upon me, and you have put my blindness to flight! You have sent forth fragrance, and I have drawn in my breath, and I pant after you. I have tasted you, and I hunger and thirst after you. You have touched me, and I have burned for your peace.”
–Augustine, Confessions X. 27.