GOD IS WITH US IN OUR PAIN
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)
Truly, there is nothing good about good Friday. There is nothing good about this pandemic. Suffering, death, poverty, isolation are evils that we try to avoid at almost any cost. There is nothing good about abandonment on the cross. And, yet, God uses the cross as the pathway to resurrection. While I don’t believe Jesus was destined to die, I believe Jesus chose to put himself at risk to fulfill God’s mission for human wholeness and salvation. Jesus didn’t so much die for our sins, but because of our sins -our refusal to accept God’s grace and share that grace with each other and the power hunger machinations of religious and political leaders.
On the cross, Jesus feels forsaken. He didn’t want to die, and now he feels alone as death draws near. We can’t fathom this pain, and yet we can imagine it. We can ask, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “only a suffering God can save.” A decade earlier Alfred North Whitehead proclaims, “God is the fellow sufferer who understands.” God is not aloof and unconcerned. God is right here in our current pain – and let us admit there is plenty of pain. We are grieving the loss of time, the changes in society, the loss of security, the rising death tolls. We are afraid of what is to come. We wonder what’s next? (At least, I do!)Yet, the cross tells us that we are not alone. The cross tells us that God feels our pain and delights in our joy. The Good Parent empathizes and cares. Perhaps in the spirit of the poem “Footprints,” when we see only one set of footprints on the beach, it is God who is carrying us.
In the quiet of your heart, listen. Call upon the holy one. Share your concerns. For God is with us, the Heart of the Universe beats with our heartbeats, the Love that Created the Universe loves us too. God is with us in our pain and isolation.
Help us to feel your nearness, O Loving Parent, and out of that nearness, let us see you and respond to you in our relationships. Amen.
Bruce Epperly is a Cape Cod pastor, professor, and author of over 50 books, including FAITH IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC and GOD ONLINE: A MYSTICS’S GUIDE TO THE INTERNET