A few weeks ago, I was to meet with a client whose life had been dramatically altered following an accident. As I was getting ready to head out the door, my husband reminded me, “Hey, it’s Good Friday!” My mind drifted off … what a strange way to describe the day Jesus died.
I don’t mean to sound disrespectful, but seriously, did Jesus think it was a “good” day? What about Mary and John as they sat and wept at the foot of the cross, when the sky grew dark? What about the other Mary, who was also at the foot of Jesus’ cross? She had dealt with her own pain, and seen His redemptive love in her life–she knew and experienced His love for her just as she was, and now He was gone. Then, in my mind, I saw my pain-filled client walking up to the cross and kneeling down, bringing Him her own pain.
It was a sweet image, but I wondered if my client would question the value of her own pain, sitting next to Mary and John, looking at their loss. Would it feel like her pain wasn’t important enough for His time? Would she become angry because of her own personal loss, and the relationships that had broken her trust? As the Creator of the world had covered that day with darkness, her life had grown dark.
Wow, what a form of worship, bringing our pain to the cross. As we look to the cross, His sacrifice, anguish, and love–it’s worship, raw and real.
If she minimized her pain before the cross, she would fail to recognize her value to God. And if she failed to admit her need for Him, then she would fail to recognize all that He is. She would fail to experience His presence and love.
There is something about the image of walking up to the cross, with Jesus there and the sky dark, that made me realize that this is as personal as it gets.
Is our pain, regardless of the size of the issue, important to Him? I think it is, simply because it brings us to Him. I remember when my kiddos were little and they were hurt or sick—they were so snuggly. I didn’t want them to be sick or in pain, but those were the times they needed me most. It kept them grounded in my love and care for them.
Later, I asked my client to imagine herself walking up before Jesus at the cross. What would He say or do? She replied, “It’s almost like nothing is said, just love flowing back and forth between us.” Together we noticed that what we bring to the cross seems to lose its power over us, because in those moments of deep connection with Jesus, His love supersedes.
It was a Good Friday. We need the dark to experience the light. Jesus had to die for us to experience His resurrection. This goodness reminds me of something I have been thinking about God’s love: His Love is perfect, but it doesn’t always deliver in the way or the time that I want it to. God draws us toward Him through all of life’s circumstances, both positive and negative, but it’s often hard to discern a loving God in the midst of negative circumstances. Unless we understand the absolute value of His love.
In the book of Genesis, Joseph says, You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good (Genesis 50:20 NIV). There are numerous other references in the Bible about God using hardships for good. Perhaps the most well known is Romans 8:28.
Could it be that God’s love, blessings, and His “good” aren’t about our personal positives or negatives? Maybe the answer is more like the mathematical concept of absolute value. His love’s absolute value (the magnitude of His goodness) is the sum of a lifetime of His presence plus our faith, and the real-time and eternal blessings that have occurred in spite of the pain.