by Katie Calkin
April 3, 2015 • Good Friday
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
I am thankful for those words. Along with Jesus’ anguish in the garden the night before, they make Jesus feel accessible to me. They open my heart to love him, and to feel completely loved by him.
Crucifixion is horrifying so it is tempting to skip right on to resurrection. But if we do that we miss the enormity and power of Jesus’ sacrificial love. If Jesus’ early followers had not recorded his moments of anguish, it would be tempting to think of Jesus as having superhuman powers – perhaps a higher pain tolerance and a lower sense of self-preservation than the rest of us. But those recorded moments of Jesus’ humanity remind us that he did suffer, and that he choose to stay true to God rather than save himself.
Jesus emptied of self and poured out God’s love into the world. He was so passionate in living out the Kingdom of God that he continued to teach, debate, heal, and break bread inclusively even when he knew the kingdom of Rome would kill him for it. I can imagine giving my life to save my own child, but it is way outside my ego-filled self to imagine loving God and God’s creation so completely that I would die to show all the children of God – the oppressed and the oppressors – that God wants peace and mercy and justice for all people, that God’s love is more powerful than sin and death.
As compelling as that love is, sometimes I find myself becoming a bit numb to it in its familiarity as a story. But wow, if I take time to sit and contemplate, it is overwhelming to think of Jesus’ love freely offered. I can imagine why our ancestors would cut a hole in a roof, or climb a tree, or crawl through a crowd to catch a glimpse of him and hope for his healing touch.
I’m also thankful that through those words from the cross Jesus becomes accessible to us when we feel forsaken. We can call out to him knowing that he knows what it is like to be a suffering human being. As you ponder Jesus’ death on this Good Friday, and perhaps your own moments in which God feels absent, I remind you of the beautiful words below that were written on a prison cell during the Holocaust. Several Advent seasons ago the choir entered the back of the sanctuary each Sunday singing these words in their stunning voices. Singing it to myself has become a great anchor for me in moments of despair.
I believe in the sun, even when it’s not shining.
I believe in love, even when I don’t feel it.
I believe in God, even when God is silent.