This story of the Crucifixion has always confused me. One would think that the little girl who teethed on hymnals would have this Christianity thing figured out by now, but I still struggle. As a child, for me, Lent wasn't about sacrifices and close communion with God. It was about late nights sitting in the pews of the church and watching Easter play practice. Some of these nights I sat wearing a softball uniform waiting for amen to be said so I could head to Partin Park and strap on my cleats. Some nights I sat with unfinished homework in my lap. But I was always mesmerized by the production. by the night the play was performed, I could recite most lines and sing every song. As I sat and watched, one scene always made me think. After the last supper, the sanctuary went black. After a couple of minutes when set changes had been made, a grey colored spotlight would focus in on Jesus, alone, praying int eh Garden. With His knees bent, His head bowed, and His hands folded, I remember Him pleading with God, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will." He prayed this prayer numerous times.
Shortly after this part, Judas and the Roman soldiers came in, and Jesus was taken away to be mocked, beaten, and then crucified on the cross. I remember being so confused. He asked God to take it away. God didn't. Why? If we ask, aren't we supposed to receive? For a while, I just chose not to think about it because to me, that isn't who God is supposed to be. I serve a God of answered prayers and a God of Hope. Not a God of death.
Over the past few years, I've found myself asking many questions: "Why do babies die? Why are teenagers killed in car accidents? Why are four year olds diagnosed with cancer? Why is there no intervention when an act of evil takes place? Why doesn't life go like I want it to go?"
One day, while sitting at my desk, I had an epiphany. I missed the most important part of the story. I was focusing on what God didn't do. I focused on the low point. I focused on the sad part of the story; I didn't focus on the blessing. I didn't focus on what God did, and the resolution of the story. Yes, He had to deal with the physical exhaustion of carrying His own cross. Yes, Jesus had to endure the pain, but that wasn't the end. He only walked the low point of life for a little while, and God commanded Him to rise from the tomb. The best part of this story is when Jesus speaks to the women the day of the Resurrection. He simply says, "Greetings."
On this day when we are once again greeted by Jesus, we should remember He didn't want to die on the cross. He went so far as to ask His Father to take away His suffering. Even He had to suffer to rise VICTORIOUSLY. C. S. Lewis says "God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way." Because our ways are not His, we don't understand why suffering must come before victory, why Jesus had to die, but I'm thankful that He was willing to pray within the will of God. I'm thankful that He was willing to endure the process of pain so that I know my final fate will be victorious. No matter the situation, it isn't the resolution of the story. That day comes when I meet my Creator, a day when suffering is no more and only victory remains!