I know it’s been nearly a year since I have written on here and it just occurred to me that I should probably write a life update post since not all of my blog readers follow me on social media. (And I got married!)
I’ve continued to write lots of micro-blogs on my facebook and instagram accounts, but the bulk of my writing has been going towards my book and preparing messages to speak. I have just finished a message that is very relevant this Easter weekend so I decided to share a piece of it here on my blog.
Ps. If you are one of my many readers who do not share my faith, just forewarning you this post is 100% Christian content. Read it or don’t read it. Either way is fine with me. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe it’s my job to convince you of anything but I love that you trust me enough to hear all of my story, including the parts about my faith.
In the midst of grieving my late husband, I was often compared to Job. (Not the least bit comforting by the way, even if it was somewhat accurate.) But if I am going to be honest with you, I didn’t handle myself as well as Job did. I did curse God. And I wanted to die.
I wrestled with God over so many questions but my longest battle was over this one: Why didn’t God protect me from pain?
I felt like there were only two options. Either God didn’t care enough to protect me or He wasn’t strong enough to protect me. Neither of those gods felt like one I wanted to continue to worship.
I became increasingly annoyed with the phrase, “Jesus is with you” or “He’ll never leave you.” I had this mental image of myself getting shot by a cannon. Jesus was right next to me watching it happen and doing nothing but smiling and holding my hand. All the while I’m standing there with a gaping, bloody hole in my chest and Jesus didn’t do anything to stop it.
This image became a wall. Any time I felt God reaching out to me I would throw that image back at him. “What reason do I have to trust you? Something bad could happen again. At any moment I could be shot with another cannon and you won’t do anything to stop it.”
The problem was, I had to let go of enough anger toward God before I could hear what He had to say about it. I found myself wishing I could be like some of the other Christian widows that I had encountered that were genuinely at peace with “all things work together for good.” But me… I couldn’t just let it go.
I’ve always been the type of person who NEEDS to understand the why behind everything. I remember once in 9th grade I pestered my algebra teacher with enough questions that he finally gave up and took an entire class period to brake down the quadratic equation so I could understand *why* it works not just *that* it works. “The Lord works in mysterious ways” wasn’t going to cut it for me.
I wanted answers.
But God wasn’t going to answer this one.
It took three heavy revelations for me to let go of this question.
The ministry school I was enrolled in conveniently scheduled an entire week dedicated to the power of Christ’s atonement at the cross right at the climax of my anger toward Him. I was immediately confronted with a very uncomfortable truth: I would have been in the crowd screaming for Jesus’s crucifixion.
I was so angry from the pain that I went through and I wanted Jesus to feel the same anguish I did.. But until that moment of revelation, I didn’t realize that the whole time that I was angry with God I had been internally screaming “crucify Him!” I felt that Jesus deserved to feel the pain I had felt not realizing that He had done so already.
I saw in my mind’s eye the angry part of my heart screaming accusations at Jesus and Jesus responding with a sad smile, “I will do anything to win your heart.” And then I saw him being beaten, whipped and finally nailed to the cross. All of the sudden I was repentant and desperately crying, “No! No, that’s not what I meant! That’s not what I wanted!”
I had always envisioned myself as one of the heroes that stayed with Jesus when He was crucified. I would have been sitting with John and the other women at the cross. I was noble, faithful… No. No, the reality is that I was the screaming, spitting, angry woman who felt that Jesus’s suffering was what He deserved.
I don’t think I have ever been so humbled as I was in that moment of revelation. The next revelation that followed was a simple truth that never had occurred to me. Jesus didn’t only experience physical pain. In my arrogance, I would think, “Ya, Jesus suffered physical pain for a day.. I’ve been suffering mental pain for years now. I would have chosen a day of pain followed by death over the endless living death I was experiencing.
But I was wrong. Jesus not only endured unparalleled physical pain, but He also took on all of the mental, emotional, and spiritual sufferings of all of humanity. All of our brokenness was poured upon Him. All of it. He experienced all of my pain before I even existed. And at that moment He felt the same as I did.
The final revelation was this: In the midst of His pain, Jesus asked the same question I did: “Why? Why God have you forsaken me?”
And God never answered.
Why doesn’t God stop suffering? That’s been the theological question of the ages. It’s a mystery we won’t understand because the almighty God who created the universe decided rather than answer that question, He would come down and experience suffering with us.
That image I had of me getting shot with a cannonball and Jesus sitting next to me smiling was completely wrong. These three revelations brought me to a place where I could let God change that picture for me. Rather than Him standing beside me, the image shifted to Jesus overlapping me, one with me, and together, we were shot by that cannonball. And every scream, every torment, every ounce of pain, Jesus experienced with me. That’s what it means when Jesus says I am with you. He’s not next to you, separate from you… He is *with* you.
“Happy Easter” feels too trite of an ending to this blog post. So instead, I pray that this Sunday you are wrecked by the understanding of the immense power of what actually took place on the cross.
But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,
and by His wounds we are healed.