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Apr 21, 2011

Good Friday Is Good!

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The day the Iraq War began in March 2003 I arrived at my parent’s home in Colorado about 7 pm. They had expected me a day earlier, but one of the biggest snow storms to ever hit the state had snowed-in the conference center not far from them where I had been one of the speakers. The snow was so deep and heavy that a large snow plow had broken an axle trying to clear the roads coming in our direction, and my rental car had to be dug out from under 8 feet of snow. My parents were glad to finally see me, and I them; but the three hours of warm conversation was the last I was to have with my mother this side of heaven. After going to bed around 10 she suffered a massive brain hemorrhage soon after and slipped into a coma from which she never wakened. She was an unusual and godly woman, with a magnificent love for people. As we talked and watched the accounts of the beginning of the war on TV, my father and I suddenly noticed that my mother was in tears. We quickly found out she was crying for the wives, children, mothers and fathers of a large helicopter filled with British and American soldiers that had crashed with no survivors. My father and I were so engrossed in conversation that the chilling words reporting their deaths did not register with us until we saw my mother’s tears and emotional sorrow.
Every day of our lives tragic deaths take place around the world. Heinous injustices are perpetrated by others upon men, women, and children. Truth is dishonored. Values are scorned. Human beings are ravaged and their blood and dignity are trampled in the streets. And in most instances we do not weep. We only are aware of a miniscule amount of personal suffering in the world. The pain of loved ones and friends and acquaintances often move us to tears, but even then, not always. We are removed from personal pain and sorrow by lack of knowledge, distant impersonal connection, and callused emotions that have seen and experienced too much for every occasion of grief to bring tears. When personal grief does assail us closer to home and the subsequent tears seem unending, time eventually salves the wound while increasing the distance between the moments of memory and the consequent sobbing. Life moves on, even though something is missing, and is not yet restored.
As finite human beings we are incapable of bearing the world’s pain and sorrow. We can hardly take care of our own. The cruel severity of the world must impact any sensitive soul when considering that many suffer completely alone with no one to hear or share their tears or hear their cry for justice. And if there really was no one infinitely capable of this, someone with whom we could relate and know personally, life must seem not worth living, and we truly would be wretched, poor, miserable creatures without hope in life or in death.
But this is why Good Friday is Good! There is One who has borne our sorrows and carried our grief when no one else could. Not only are our personal iniquities laid on His back, but He bears the sins of the world on the cross; the people places neither we nor others could reach, or “fix ourselves. The lonely cry in the darkness does not go unheard. The call for justice does not fall on deaf ears. We cannot know, we will not know, until we reach the other shore, what transpires between the lonely soul and the heart of the God-man, Jesus, who died in our place; in the critical moment we do not see, yet He sees. The powerless victim will be avenged. Like the thief on the cross who never had another opportunity to ask forgiveness of those he abused, robbed or killed, yet saw his hardened heart suddenly become tender in the brief moments before dying within feet of his Redeemer. The other faced his Maker with a scorn he carried to his last breath. But He tells us about both that we might come to Good Friday with a heart like one and not the other; that of the thief who entered Paradise with Him from the cross; humble, broken, repentant, thankful, and hopeful of his future even in the midst of his dire situation.
Tomorrow is Good Friday. Not just a common-religious-holiday-name, that lights no “spark in your soul, because you’ve “been there, done that. Real faith is not like that. It works Good in you as you prayerfully contemplate what a dying Savior gives to your life, and all that a dying Savior gives to the world. Jesus died! It is a Good thing. He lives, and so shall we.


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