April 1, 1994
My church was not having a Good Friday service. So, I sat on my back porch. At ten years old, I was profoundly sad. I was depressed about my own broken life and broken family. I was grieving the death of a woman who had meant the world to me; she was one of the few sources of love I knew. My eyes focused on the potted kalanchoe she had given me just weeks prior to her passing. The tears welled up fresh and anew. She knew I loved living, growing things. She had seen me. I cried out in anguish, wondering why she and I had both had such a hard life—why she had to die. I felt alone. No, desolate. Yes. That was a better word.
My mind began to wander, and by some divine hand, it began to journey to the cross. I began to see her life and mine in the light of the suffering—the whip-marks that tore his flesh—the stripes that He says will heal me. I saw my tormented heart reflected in his agony. “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto his sorrow.”
My heart transcended space and time, and there I stood before the gruesome scene on that bloody, holy hill. Or, rather, there I knelt. No heart that has known true suffering can stand before such agony. Real, human flesh was torn and bruised, bleeding, yet He uttered no ill word. I watched the nails enter tender flesh, and I saw the wrenching agony on his face when the foot of that cross was dropped into the hole. He looked down at me with a meaning gaze and became my example when He uttered the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
My breath caught in my chest, and I thought I might die right there.
My ten-year-old eyes wept hot, bitter tears at the hopelessness of it all, knowing that He went through every single moment of that death with no relief. There was nothing I could do to erase the horror and scandal of it all. There was nothing I could do to make it less ugly or painful. It was a hopeless situation. The full weight of it hit me, and I sobbed for what seemed like an eternity.
But then, as the sun began to break through the clouds in my back yard that day, my heart turned to that tomb and rolled-away stone. I saw a brilliant light as filtered through a dark veil, and I could see through the black hopelessness of Good Friday to a coming Easter. A resurrection. I stared right through the hopelessness and saw that there really was something on the other side of not-yet.
We can walk through the hopeless if we can stare through the hopelessness and see that Easter is coming. Maybe we can face situations that leave us powerless if we know that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is not only in us, but at work in our lives to bring resurrection and new life into the worst, most hopeless circumstances.
* quotations taken from the 1964 United Methodist Book of Worship