What do you do when you are in your darkest hour? What do you say when you see no way out? What can be done when you find yourself crying, “God, I’m dying here”?
Like Jesus on the cross, I can only see three things to do:
- First, admit that you are dying. You finally see the factual finality of the death that has slipped over you. Something is certainly coming to an end. It is not necessarily a momentary trial to test you and tomorrow everything will be back to normal. A death of some kind has entered your door. You’ve been left hanging, fastened securely to some kind of cross from which there is no escape. You finally realize that there is nothing you can do but accept it, take it in, and submit to it. You are dying. And you know it.
- Second, say, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The god you believed before is not rescuing you. There is nothing but silence. No one is answering. Any help you get is just small and momentary reliefs, like a small sip of water or a brief recognition of your pain. But that’s it. You feel forsaken because perhaps you actually are! No one understands. No one can help. And there seems to be no help forthcoming. Your idea of who your god is must undergo the most radical and disturbing of metamorphoses. The god you used to believe is now gone forever, forsaking you finally. Admit it.
- Finally, say, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” This is surrender. That’s all we have left. We can at last surrender our spirit, in weakness and humility, to the overwhelming forces at work. This does not mean giving up. This does not mean spiritual suicide. What it means is that we finally realize, in our humanity, that there are some things we are powerless to change. It is a subtle but crucial transference of our spirit from our own grasps and from our now bankrupt version of who we thought our god was to the Mystery of That Which We Know Nothing Of.
I know this may sound depressing. But I didn’t want to beautify a very grim reality of our human existence. This part of our journeys must be respected. Taking up the cross and dying daily is not a pretty sight. It is not a pleasant experience.
But this is the only way we make ourselves eligible for new life. This is the only way we become poised to become new creations.
We hope that the metaphor of resurrection communicates a certain power that is at work in the world. This is what we die for. This is what we live for.