Wednesday, April 20, 2011

the food of Easter

Oh no.  He's there again.  Right outside the department store door; between me and my grocery bags filled with food for Easter and the street where I'll catch a jeepney home.  He's standing as usual.  Tatters cover his legs, spread wide for balance, and his arms reach high in supplication as he mutters his plea for alms.  He won't see me avert my eyes and look away.  I will look anywhere but at his disfigured face and blind eyes.  He won't see me.  And I don't want to look at his suffering, or to get anywhere near it.

Could this be somehow a failure on the part of God, 
that this man should know such shame and misery?
Is God in reality not powerful enough to eradicate his suffering...
and for that matter, 
the suffering in my life, 
and in yours, 
and in the lives of those we love?

Or is all this suffering somehow mysteriously linked to that hill in Israel where Almighty God carried out the final horrible details of an earth-shaking, history-making plan that He masterminded even before He spoke this earth into existence?  

Because He planned it just as it happened. (see Revelation 13:8)  The cross wasn't some cosmic disaster, nor a gentle gesture of sentimental goodwill somehow spun tragically out of control.  

Those one-inch thorns driven deep into Jesus' head; 
the lacerated back laced with ribbons of bleeding flesh made to shoulder a 75 pound cross-beam;
tapered, square-shafted five-inch iron spikes pierced into the median nerve of the wrist, inflicting severe, excruciating pain;
His every breath an agony of effort; 
and the darkness, 
the worst of all.  
The darkness of God's wrath, as He turned His back.  
Every single detail was planned from before time.

God planned this suffering?

"Sometimes God allows what He hates 
to accomplish what He loves."  
- Joni Eareckson Tada

Is it possible that our suffering
may be exactly what God has planned
to accomplish something far more valuable
than comfort and happiness in our lives?

As I look at His outstretched arms,
into His face distorted with agony,
into this suffering, 
is this not why I celebrate Easter?  
Is this, after all, the real food of Easter? 

That because of suffering
I am brought back to God (1 Peter 3:18)
  I am healed. (Is. 53:5)
I am forgiven. (1 Peter 2:24)

Only by the suffering of Christ 
is my greatest suffering,
my agonizing need for Him,
finally filled.
The true food of Easter.

**thanks to good friends who have invited me to read and think on the book 'Suffering and the Sovereignty of God' by John Piper, which is giving me this Easter a fresh appreciation for the meaning of the cross of Christ...

1 comment:

Rosalie Grant said...

This had me in tears. Contemplating our awesome gift today. "The depth of all His suffering no heart could e'er conceive." What absolutely amazing love this is. So grateful that death couldn't hold Him down.