When I wrote, “At Year Two,” I was trying to go back to sleep, but then I decided to journal instead. I’ve learned enough about the way the Lord speaks to recognize when it’s Him waking me up to say something or pray and not just conclude, “Oh, I’m awake randomly. Let me go back to sleep.”
I’m not sure why, but in the midst of my own uncertainty about life and seeming inability to process the events at the start of 2014, I got to thinking of the disciples and how they must have felt partway through Jesus’ ministry. As I wrote then: “At year two, they couldn’t have understood what everything meant. They probably still wondered who this Man really was that they were so drawn to follow. Had they made the right decision in leaving their nets or their post to follow Him?”
While at a midpoint in my journey, I wondered the same thing too. As I considered my own sleep-deprived, flu-wrecked, uncertainty-laden, emotionally exhausted, fully overwhelming, ultimately confusing state of my own being, I couldn’t quite discern up from down in this process of following Jesus.
It had been 2 years since stepping out of the conventional boat to follow Jesus’ calling me out upon the water. Job. Money. Apartment. Community. Friends. Church. Ministry. Routine. Status. Everything.
I wasn’t where I had been but not yet where I will be. I find I’m still somewhere in between, in transition…
And what could I show for it?
The Lord had called me to go… But why did life look like this right now?
Faith would rise, then doubts would come… Was this journey really going somewhere good? Would life always be like this?
And how was it that I came back from a missions trip completely wrecked… not in the “ooh-that-mountain-top-experience-was-so-amazing-and-I’m-so-excited-and-joyful-but-have-a-little-trouble-sleeping-on-a-normal-schedule” kind of way, but in a “I-can’t-even-process-that-amazing-trip-let-alone-my-life-let-alone-understand-this-CRAZY-way-that-God-is-leading-me-I-mean-He-IS-leading-me-somewhere-good?” kind of way?
And what about all those promises, all those desires, all those words from God I’ve been clinging onto for dear life, as I obey His word (confirmed again and again) to wait for… to rest in… to trust Him and let Him do exactly what He said?
It was in this Spirit-led, I’m-too-tired-to-wake-up-but-I-know-it’s-You kind of moment that I realized that the Lord was giving me a gift: of understanding, of knowing I’m not the only one, of comfort that this is, indeed, leading somewhere amazing.
And on this day, it seems like the right time to share it.
Today is Good Friday, the day we look at the cross and what Jesus did for the world. But let’s hold back our knowledge of the true, joyful resurrection that follows, and sit a bit with the disciples in the grief, confusion, and despair of seeing their Savior, their Hope crucified.
Uncomfortable, isn’t it?
But if we don’t let the true heartache of the day Jesus died permeate our souls and skip right on to the joy that followed, we miss something very real: In the midst of our suffering and pain, it truly does seem like all hope is lost. And that very real place is exactly where God does His best work.
When we face sadness, grief, confusion, dead circumstances, pain, and despair that goes on day after day after day, the hope of a resurrection seems almost unreal at points. The disciples heard Jesus talk about dying and rising again, but they didn’t get it. And to be honest, I hear the words Jesus is saying to me about my own picking up my cross and dying so that He might live through me, but I don’t really get it either. I’m surrounded by examples in Scripture, and yet, very often, I don’t understand my current season in life. I, too, wrestle with believing the words God’s spoken even though by His Word I know He cannot lie and is faithful to do everything He’s promised!
And so today, on Good Friday, I remember, yes, that Jesus, Who truly lived and is God, came in the flesh to this world and died for the sins we all have committed against our Creator God. He came to be the perfect sacrifice to remove and cover every single last sin so that we could stand in His righteousness before a holy, perfect God and be in restored relationship with Him. But He went through pain, despair, heartache, abandonment by those closest to Him, and ultimately separation from God.
Yes, there was joy set before Him why He endured the cross.
And yes, He knew there was a very GREAT purpose to His suffering.
But His suffering was just that…
(to make the world’s most understated point)
…is not fun.
It’s desperately hard.
But God, Who makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, redeems our suffering and births joy out of it.
He’s the only One Who can…
and the only One Who will.
Will we let Him? Will we bow our entire selves, our lives, our hearts to this great and good God Who shows us what true, unconditional love is?
It’s while we were enemies of God that Jesus came and endured the cross, despising it’s shame, and taking on our punishment, one that He did not deserve. All this to buy us back from the clutches of death so that we could go free and live with Him, know Him now. And not just for our own sake, but so that we could proclaim the Good News of His life, death, and resurrection to all so they might know Him too.
So this Good Friday, let’s ponder what is truly good about it, and remember, that this same Savior is the One Who brings hope in the midst of our current suffering and the promise to bring life out of your most dead, bitterly confusing, and utterly impossible of circumstances.