blooms-amid-the-stones.mp3. Audio version read by Cheryl
Many are tracing the path of Jesus this week as He walked towards His brutal torture and death. Thinking aboout His horrendous suffering, bloody footsteps, emotional agony – wrestling with the will of His Father- may give us pause about the whole scheme of things. Why the cross? Is God retributive and harsh? Or is it justice on our behalf? And, like Jesus, we wonder if there could be another way. Thankfully for us, He decided to trust His Father and submit willingly.
We are facing the reality of suffering in our own world as well. There are those who are walking with friends or family through the ravages of cancer or other illness, some the dreaded virus. We are all trying to dodge the risk of acquiring or contaminating others with the recent viral monster of Covid 19. Our lives have been turned upside down, our futures uncertain, not only healthwise, but economically and socially as well. So many are victims of tyranny of one form or another, waking up each morning wondering if death is a friend rather than an enemy. Anger permeates public conversation and leadership does everything but foster trust.
Sadly, this seems to be an all too common scenario throughout history. Consider these words from the lamentations of one of God’s prophets tasked with calling the nation of Israel back to righteousness:
“Jerusalem, once so full of people, is now deserted.
She who was once great among the nation, now sits alone like a widow.
Once the queen of all the earth, she is now a slave.
She sobs through the night; tears stream down her cheeks.
Among all her lovers, there is no one left to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her and become her enemies.
Judah has been led away into captivity, oppressed with cruel slavery…
The roads of Zion are in mourning
Because no one comes to the appointed feasts
All her gates are desolate… Lamentations 1
So although our present circumstances are unprecedented in our own time, people have walked this tearful trail before us. In Israel’s day, God got Israel’s attention by touching their affluence that had hardened them to the plight of the vulnerable. Their history is an object lesson to us all that dignifying our fellow human beings with honorable treatment is easily lost, and not usually regained merely by persuasive words. Our obstinate stubbornness too often makes it necessary for God to take extreme measures to get our attention.
I am not suggesting that Covid is God’s punishment today. Natural catastrophes happen. Since those days God sent Jesus to call us to something better. He not only came alongside us and told us the truth, He not only grieved and empathized with us in our struggles with mortality, but He chose to embrace the death grip of the very force that brings all this havoc into the human experience. He wrestled with it and won. The first human raised from the dead by the power of holiness offers us an alternative to destruction. In a staggering turn of events, He invites us to join us in His destiny. A call to immortality!
Why, then, are we still experiencing all this tragedy and misery? Well, we are living in the “not yet”. We are in the interim. We still face the brutal realities of a fallen race in a broken world, but it will not always be like this. For reasons unclear to us, but certainly in His mercy, God is waiting to bring an end to the ravages of sin and death. We grieve and ache at the pain we see around us as well as what we experience in our own lives. We mourn over the sorrow and pain we ourselves have caused either by intent or neglect. Without the certainty of something new and incorruptible, demonstrated by the resurrection of the One we can trust, we would be lost in dark despair.
As we live through our isolation it is easy to become despondent, hopeless, even bitter. In my yard I see flowers blooming in the cracks of the rocks. I love that in our quarantine we see so many living out love – helping, caring, encouraging, praying, weeping with, and isolating themselves for the sake of others. Jesus set our example, for our sakes becoming poor so that He, through His poverty, could make many rich. This is our “little while”. Keep hoping, praying, loving in our grieving. Walk in His footsteps, Who left us an example to follow in suffering – maybe wondering about it all, but choosing to trust the One Who knows the end from the beginning. Deciding to persevere somehow lessens the sting. Suffering has the power to destroy or ennoble us. Our choice. Happy Easter!
“In a moment we’ll be changed – in the twinkling of an eye
The world as we know it rearranged – new earth and sky
Be ready for this day – as a thief comes in the night
As lightning strikes the sky from east to west – here comes the light.
Don’t want to miss it – no!”
Remedy Drive In a Moment