Rushing to the good

Today is Good Friday. We call it “good” for important reasons, but sometimes I wonder if our rush to claim the good prevents us from fully engaging in the terrible, painful, lonely and disappointment of this day. Today is the day Jesus, the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, the Messiah died.

Imagine for a moment that you are one of Jesus’ disciples. You have been following Jesus for three years. Your life is invested in this man and his mission. A few days ago you entered the city with him like a conquering king.  But now he is dead. He was arrested, tortured and executed.

What do you do now? Where do you go? You could return to the life you had before you left everything to follow him, but can you really? After everything you have seen, heard and done with Jesus how could you possibly go back? You are changed. You are different. You have outgrown your old life. For you this day is hardly good.

Oh you will call this day good from the perspective of Sunday, but on Friday and Saturday there is nothing good about it. What if we took time today and tomorrow to reflect on the loss, the grief of this day? We don’t usually do grief very well. Maybe today is a good day to start.

The Man of Sorrows

“He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.” –Isaiah 53:3

About a year ago I started seeing a counselor. He is helping me find some emotional health in my crazy life. In my last visit, I described some frustrating circumstances and he asked what I do with it. I said, “It makes me angry. I get frustrated. I complain a lot.”

“You look sad. Are you sad?” He cut right to the heart of it, seeing what I apparently couldn’t.

“Yes,” I responded almost without thinking. “I am.”

“When do you feel sad? When do you feel it?”

“When I slow down. When I am not distracted.”

He left me in that statement. We sat in silence.

“I am always sad. It’s always there.”

“Are you saying sadness is your baseline?”

“Yes. I feel like it’s always there, constantly threatening to consume me.”

I am wounded. Sometimes my life feels like a breadcrumb trail of brokenness. There is hardly a season of my life not marked by loss or pain. I hope it’s okay for me to share this. To be honest, I am a little nervous about posting it. I don’t want to bleed on you, the reader, but I share my memory of this conversation because I assume there are folks who can relate.

There is a song that is God’s voice to me when I find myself stuck in the mire of sadness and self-pity. It is the final verse of Andrew Peterson’s Silence of God.

There’s a statue of Jesus on a monastery knoll
In the hills of Kentucky, all quiet and cold
And he’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a stone
All his friends are sleeping and he’s weeping all alone
And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought

So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
The aching may remain, but the breaking does not
In the holy, lonesome echo of the silence of God

indexIt brings me comfort to realize Jesus is familiar with sadness. Isaiah calls him the Man of Sorrows. He knows what it is like to be betrayed, abandoned and wounded. He was slandered and treated unfairly. He felt the pain of injustice. He knows. He knows what it is to be filled with sorrow to the point of breaking. He knows. He is the one I follow. He is the one I love. He is the one who loves me.

A new action of God

The resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate energizing for the new future. The wrenching of Friday had left only the despair of Saturday (Luke 24:21) and there was no reason to expect Sunday after that Friday. There is not any way to explain the resurrection out of the previously existing reality. The resurrection can only be received and affirmed and celebrated as the new action of God whose province it is to create new futures for people and to let them be amazed in the midst of despair… The resurrection of Jesus is not to be understood in good liberal fashion as a spiritual development in the church. Nor should it be handled too quickly as an oddity in the history of God or as an isolated act of God’s power. Rather, it is the ultimate act of prophetic energizing in which a new history is initiated. It is a new history open to all but peculiarly received by the marginal victims of the old order.

–Walter Brueggemann The Prophetic Imagination

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