Saturday, March 26, 2011

40 Days of Lint, Day Sixteen: Jesus in the Middle

Grief comes in waves. When someone we love dies, we lose our job, our spouse rejects us, or we suffer tragedy, pain is all-encompassing. It’s normal to ricochet back and forth in the five stages of grief: denial, blame, guilt, anger, and acceptance. I experienced them all after my divorce. The pain was worse than death, because it didn’t end. In my anguish I cried out repeatedly, “Why, why doesn’t my husband love me anymore?” I knew God wasn’t to blame. Even in my sorrow, I knew God grieved with me.

Yet, there have been other times when I have blamed God for pain and suffering. Even hanging from a cross of my own making, I have yelled at God for not saving me from the pain. Whenever grief or hardships appear, whatever the cause, the choices are the same. We can either look to Christ for help and comfort, or rail at Him in anger.

On the cross, Jesus hung between two thieves who faced that same decision.
“They crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle” (John 19:18).

“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’

"But the other criminal rebuked him. ‘Don’t you fear God,’ he said, ‘since you are under the same sentence. We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.’

"Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’

"Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise’ ” (Luke 23:39-43).

Jesus came in the flesh to experience our pain and show us God’s heart for mankind. He didn’t answer the thief who hurled insults at Him, while demanding relief from his pain. He knew this man had no faith. Instead, He turned to the one who admitted his own sinfulness, and sought a relationship with God.

Next to Jesus’ perfection, we’re all sinners in need of His forgiveness. When we suffer – because of our own sins, someone else’s choices, or because we live in a fallen world – the answer is always to look to the cross in the middle. He came to be with us in our pain, our grief, and in every tragedy that strikes. When we do, like the thief who turned to Jesus, He assures us we will be with Him, both now and for eternity.  I pray that today, whatever pain you bear, you will freely give it to Jesus and let Him love you.

Lint Removed: Blame for Circumstances
Cleaning Process: Look to Jesus in Times of Pain

1 comment:

  1. My favorite sentence from today: When we suffer – because of our sin, someone else’s choices, or because we live in a fallen world –the answer is always to look to the cross in the middle.