Friday, March 29, 2013
We Christians are supposed to spend Good Friday dwelling on how much Jesus suffered to cleanse us from our sins. Yes, His suffering was immeasurable, but we often lose sight of why He went through it – "for the joy set before Him." Not purely for suffering's sake, or to grudgingly make a way for us hopelessly sinful humans. It was His joy to mend the gap and reconcile us to His Father. Jesus had motives. His happiness is tied up in ours. He wasn't robotically going through the motions of His difficult purpose on earth – He gladly persevered because the fruits of His labor were guaranteed.
This has been the winter of my discontent. The "sufferings" in my life are pretty frivolous compared to what millions of people currently deal with, but they are still real, slowly wearing me down as all sufferings do. Usually, if I have assurance of some eventual purpose or payoff (sometimes even if I'm not the beneficiary of it), I can endure things for a long time. What's finally sent me off the rails and into the swamp of despair is a loss of purpose. For a variety of reasons, my "thorns" don't seem to have any point or positive effect anymore. I fear that they'll just keep weakening me until I'm useless to God, virtually laying on the floor crying out to Him all the time instead of out serving and accomplishing for Him, and my life will count for nothing. The end.
No one can stand up for long under that kind of hopelessness, and I don't think we're meant to, because even Jesus didn't. Even Jesus, the only perfectly holy person who ever lived, didn't suffer in a vacuum. He had His eyes on the prize, and God infused meaning into everything He did. That gives me a renewed confidence in God's sovereignty over our circumstances. Over the last few years, I've often felt doomed in certain ways because our world is just so messed up. I've pictured God shrugging sympathetically and saying "Sorry, kiddo. Fallen world." But on this Good Friday, I feel reassured that our suffering is not some crazy random happenstance, just the byproduct of a fallen world. Even when there's no evidence, God still has a purpose and will be glorified in all of it. Jesus needed motivation to endure, and God knows that we do too. Jesus' motives on the cross – love for us, love for His Father – should be ours too. As my pastor said last night at Maundy Thursday service, "If these joys are good enough for Jesus, they are good enough for you."
We can rest and know that no matter what's happening or not happening in our lives, if we are God's, He loves us and is pleased with us. He loves us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins. And in the words of a famous preacher whose name I can't remember – SUNDAY'S COMING.