March 25, 2013

“When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.
And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”
which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken  me?”

– Mark 15:33-34 (Holman Christian Standard)

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you felt abandoned and alone? I remember such a time in my own life when it seemed as though the walls were closing in. The situation left me feeling overwhelmed and helpless. I was frustrated with my job as a teacher and coach because promises made to me had not been kept; my mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and her future was uncertain; my Army Reserve unit was on-call to be activated for overseas duty and I was the father of two young sons who needed more of my time. The agony of the situation led me to cry out, “Where are you God in my time of need?” My entire focus was on my mounting troubles and I could see nothing good coming from the experience.

Jesus knows and understands our pain. The day we call Good Friday was a life changing day for Jesus and for us. Jesus was brought before Pilate for judgment and the people chose a known criminal Barabbas to be released. Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion, given a crown of thorns, mocked, beaten and spit on. He was taken to Golgotha (Calvary) and nailed to a cross with criminals on each side. Between noon and three, there was darkness everywhere. As Jesus hung on the cross, He was separated from His Father as He took on the full judgment of our sins. In His final moments, Jesus cried out, “Father, why have you abandoned Me?” After Jesus took His final breath, I can only imagine the thoughts of the men and women who followed Him. They had to be overwhelmed with emotion and grief from the events of the past few days. Where would they go? What would happen next? When would the darkness end? Was there any good that could come out of this experience? What a difference three days can make! We know that great things can and do come from bad experiences. We know that from the darkness of Good Friday comes the brilliant light of Easter morning and His glorious Resurrection. God promises that He will never leave us alone or abandon us, not even in darkest times of our lives.

Heavenly Father, thank you for always being there for us in our time of need. Give us Your strength to weather the storms and the dark times in our lives. Teach us to keep our focus on You and not our problems as we wait for Your perfect plan to unfold. AMEN

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