Profoundly disturbed and invigorated by the perplexing phrase, “my [God’s] heart is in pain,” in Jeremiah 31:20, Kazoh Kitamori delves and discovers an original theological crux: the pain of God. The pain of God is succinctly defined as the dissonance in God between his wrath to punish sin and his love to embrace the unlovable [us], yet in the historical person of Jesus it is clearly shown that love conquers wrath (Barth’s distinction between “God’s No” and “God’s Yes” as “God’s No in the service of God’s Yes” is comparable here). Therefore, the pain of God is ‘love rooted in the pain of God.’ This is also demonstrated in God’s forgiveness of unforgivable sin: “Forgiveness for a forgivable sin is a denial of the pain of God. The pain of God is his love conquering the inflexible wrath of God…” (35). Kitamori further recognizes the redemption of human pain in God’s pain by serving it. And what is the service of the pain of God except the complete denial of self-love for love of God and neighbor? To love in this way causes pain analogous to love rooted in God’s pain.
Kitamori unabashedly draws from his Japanese heritage, especially grassroots philosophy (the mind or sense of Japan’s common people). This inspires me as a Korean American Christian male in the U.S. of the 21st century: How can God speak to us? How can we speak about God?