Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
Mark 15:33-34 (NIV)

As I type, it is a dark, dreary, stormy Friday morning. I have felt a heaviness this week regarding illness, sin and death. It is everywhere all the time--this is nothing new, I know--but I am especially sensitive to its presence in the lives of so many close to me.

Yesterday I spoke with four good friends who have close family members right in the thick of their battle with cancer: a grandmother, a father, a mother-in-law and a husband. I feel such a hatred toward that disease right now. Who will be next?

As I was doing laundry yesterday with this heavy weight in my heart, I listened to the second message from an Andy Stanley sermon series called He's Still* Got the Whole World in His Hands. In this series Andy points out that the whole Bible is full of stories of turmoil, uncertainty and pain. How many stories from the Bible can you think of that are centered on smooth sailing and the absence of conflict? This is the story of this world.

Yet, today we observe the sacrifice necessary for ultimate victory over sin and death. This part of the story is painful and gut wrenching. Yet, without it, Easter Sunday would mean so little--and our hope...what would it mean for our hope?

I am reminded of an evening in the Fall of 1996 when I felt the most out of control, sad, alone and afraid I can ever remember feeling. (Truly, I think the feelings that afternoon were more intense than when I was in the ICU because I did not have the insulation of illness, pain medication and a loving husband.)

A perfect storm of difficult things had occurred in a short period of time. I had graduated from college and returned to my hometown to find it a very different place. None of my old friends were there--except for guy friends who were all newly married and therefore not appropriate friends for me anymore. My three best girl friends from college were engaged or newly married. The two women I was living with in Columbus were also both newly engaged. While I was thrilled for them, it meant they had new #1s in their life--and our friendship was edged out. I was struggling with all the real life lessons of car payments, rent, bills and making ends meet. My boyfriend and I were in the throes of a break up. I had also just learned that my little sister was unexpected pregnant and unmarried. Have I mentioned that I was also not particularly close to the Lord during this season? I felt so alone and so overwhelmed by the realities of adulthood.

I wound up on the doorstep of a precious friend, former small group leader and mentor, "Aunt Anne." I found myself sobbing uncontrollably on her sofa explaining how 'the only thing left to go wrong is for someone to die or to lose my job.' When I managed to lift my head long enough to see her face, she had sympathetic tears wetting her eyes, but she was smiling!
WHAT? Was she not listening to me? How could she be smiling?

She must have sensed my frustration and confusion. She said, "Sweet Jennifer, I am sorry my response is to smile, but I am keenly aware God is about to do something huge in your life. This brokenness always comes to clear the way for something big."

By the way, you know the rest of the story...God was clearing the way for my heart to be brought back to Him and only Him. This preparation was necessary to enter into a healthy relationship with my husband. And that doorstep I showed up on of Aunt Anne's house? A year later I signed a contract to purchase that doorstep and the house that went with it. It happened to be the very day of my first date with my now-husband. We cannot get so caught up in our momentary circumstances--regardless of how very painful and Earth-shattering they seem at the time. We have no idea what God is up to!

I think about how the followers of Jesus must have felt on that dark Friday 2000 years ago...Confusion, abandonment, frustration, disappointment. They had been warned this was coming, just as we are warned over and over in Scripture that this world IS NOT our home. And, yet our hearts cry out, "This isn't what I thought was going to happen God."

I am reminded of the Sovereignty and consistency of God. It may be Friday, but Sunday is coming.


Sunni-Nichole' said...

Just Beautiful! Thank you!

Eleanor Oser said...

Beautiful post and so true!!!

ashylib said...

Every time I read your blog, I feel renewed, refreshed and full of hope again. Thanks for sharing your trials and truimphs with such raw honesty.

Jennifer said...

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing such a personal story.

Vicky said...

Thank you so much for sharing this story. I am single and the last few months of my life have been rather stormy. I am sensing that God is doing just what you're friend said... clearing the way for something big-- drawing me closer to God before I'm ready for whatever He has planned next in my life. I long to be a wife and mommy, but I am trusting God's perfect timing :)

Hearing your story brought tears to my eyes because I understand, but it also gave me even more hope. Thank you and Happy Easter!

Amanda said...

Great Post...thank you so much! :)

Tee said...

OH YES! Sunday is coming! Our hope and salvation! Sunday is coming!

Amy said...

I like this. Thank you.