“When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” – John 19:30
My favorite thing in the world is that scene in the movie: the one in which the peppy music comes on, and the wrong-for-each-other couple falls in love, or the gritty neighborhood gets turned around, or the ugly duckling becomes a swan. In other words, the montage sequence. Why can’t the universe be tidy like this, instead of: a hot mess that is rapidly cooling and spreading out into the infinity-frigid-dark-and-formless-void?
Here’s the rub: even Jesus couldn’t escape the hot mess and the cold pain of betrayal, abandonment, and death. If God had to do things the hard way, why should we be exempt?
Most of our spiritual progress, at least once we reach adulthood, is made by lurching from crisis to crisis, grief to grief, and somehow surviving all of them.
The fact of the cross says there is something spiritually important about the hard things that happen. God may or may not send them, but God will absolutely use them, when they happen, to transform us and teach us what we need to know next. There’s no resurrection without a crucifixion.
God, as we live through this long, hard day with Jesus, thank you for not editing out the fiddly bits. Help us to share deeply in this dying, and may our own sufferings and hard slogs serve to draw us closer to you.
Molly Baskette is between churches, working on two new books before starting her next call. You can read more from her in her two current offerings, Real Good Church and Naked Before God.