Its Easter week! Its a time to celebrate and remember the power that is available to us through the finished work of the cross and empty grave. But maybe this week as you remember the suffering of Jesus, you find yourself wondering if the cross and resurrection can really bring the healing you long for from pain and trauma? Or maybe you have a friend or family member who is struggling to experience wholeness and freedom that you know is available in Jesus, that you can share this with. Today I want to share why the cross and empty grave has the power to HEAL, RESTORE and REDEEM.
“But will I ever feel like myself again?,” she asked me.
Her question startled me, and there I was holding the phone as my brother told me my Dad was dead. I was grasping my belly, blood in the toilet weeping over my baby, gone….I was in the ER, with a solemn sonographer looking for a heart beat. I was on the phone with 911, beside my friend who was turning blue experiencing a heart attack.
Her question to me following her own personal loss…it had been my anthem for days, weeks, maybe even years following death, grief, loss… “I just want to feel like myself again” I would think, “I want to laugh without feeling the laughter cut pre-maturely remembering who wasn’t there to laugh with me. I just wanted to laugh, freely…without looking over my shoulder, frantically scanning my surroundings wondering when the next tragedy or crises would come. I wanted to go to sleep at night without fear…fear that one of my children would die in the night, fear that something would happen to my husband while he was driving. I wanted to feel carefree and full of wonder and hope at what may be next instead of dreading each new day.
I looked into her eyes, beautiful brown, with a sadness I wished I could dispel. I so desperately wanted to tell her what I knew she wanted to hear …of course you will feel like yourself again…of course this won’t be forever.
But it would be a lie….
The truth I had come to realize is that when you experience suffering, grief, death, loss, tragedy…you will never feel like how you did before the trauma.
But you can feel better…you can feel more alive, experience more joy, find true hope…
Last summer our kitchen just underwent a looongggg and unexpected kitchen remodel because of a leak in our dishwasher…(and that’s another story for another time). But as a part of the kitchen remodel, I was able to choose a different sink and I chose a copper sink.
Its pretty isn’t it…
But day 1 I freaked out….because I left some dishes in the sink and I noticed these green tealish spots all over the copper sink… “great, day 1 and I had destroyed the sink,” I thought. I rubbed them and they turned a darker brown. “Well at least that’s not as ugly I thought” but I was questioning my sink choice.
So I talked to my friend, Sherri about it. Sherri had bought the same sink after a bunch of research and I had relied on her recommendation so I was hoping she could give me some insight into what was happening.
“The copper sink is meant to change its patina over time. Sometimes it will be darker but then eventually it will turn back into it original copper color because it has a living finish,” she said.
A living finish.
Its finished, but not finished living.
Its finish will change over time as it lives.
It will renew itself in spite of its scars and water marks.
We can be renewed too.
If a copper sink receives a scratch, it will eventually heal itself and blend back into the finish of the sink
Because it is a living finish.
Its finished but lives.
The dichotomy of these words has been whirling in my soul…
Every time I did a dish…everytime I saw more of the original bright copper seeping through the muted brown finish…I smile…somehow the scars I carry…somehow the dichotomy I have lived with for the past 10 years…as I found myself experiencing great loss but also seasons of great joy….
- The birth of my 2 children.
- Time with friends over coffee.
- My son’s snuggles..
All these things have brought me the deepest joy but there have been so many moments of feeling undone and crippled by sorrow.
I broke the silence and shared the hardest and best news to my friend… “you will never feel like yourself again”….
I am not the same person I was before my Dad died…before I lost 2 babies too early….I’m not…and I never will be that person again.
But I promise you, that if you will look at Jesus, if you will hold His hand and let Him hold you.
Consider the cross and share in such a small way His suffering…you will never be the same but you will be changed”…
You will truly live – you will understand what life and death are really all about.
I know someone who was told He was finished. A thorn of crowns was brutally smashed into His head, and lash after lash that was struck upon him stripping away his flesh and bone, marring his skin forever. He was “pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
When Jesus uttered “it is finished”…they thought He was finished, His accusers, His persecutors, those who spat on Him, those who heralded Him King a few days early and now despised Him with spitting and mockery. Even his most devoted disciples feared He was finished too.
When we think of finished we think something is over. Maybe it’s the end of a college career and we have received our diploma, and we think “I am finished” It may be a Friday after a long work week and we think “I am finished.” Or maybe you’re a Mama who just nursed your baby for the last time and are done weaning him and you think “I am finished” Regardless, when I use the word finish I think of something being completed and done.
But when Jesus used the word “finished” it was just the beginning.
When He rose again defeating death and the grave forever, He paid the price for our sin and salvation so that we could be in heaven with Him forever, if we accept His gift.
And if this wasn’t enough, He now offers us the opportunity to experience a living finish with Him.
That’s what I have experienced after walking through almost a decade of grief…He is my living finish
Have you ever wondered why when Jesus returned to visit His disciples after His resurrection why His hands and feet still bore the nail scars? I have, maybe it was so His disciples would really believe it was Him…maybe it is for reasons beyond my comprehension (Probably =) But do you know what I think…
I think Jesus wants to show us that there is no shame in our scars.
I think He wanted us to know that there is power when we remember our pain, our grief, our suffering and loss. I think He wanted us to know that when He extends a hand to us in the midst of our pain and suffering, and we look and realize we are holding hands with the one who defeated death and hell and the grave, yet still has scars…that we can be healed by simply sharing with Him in His suffering.
Suffering…..its not a popular topic in America…its not a popular topic amongst Christian Americans especially…we like our specialty coffee, temperature controlled rooms, and 2 day shipping…we like our safety and security cameras…but this world is not safe…and with the news of sex trafficers in American cities big and small or shootings in our schools …it should be obvious that America is not immune from suffering…and certainly we all bear our own personal griefs and scars.
This is what I told my friend. Don’t be afraid of the journey of suffering and grief, if you will hold on to Jesus through it you will find a whole new life that you never knew existed…you will be a living finish.
You will know His comfort, His presence and power in a way that many will never know. He will be more intimate to you, than anyone in this world. He will free you from fear. He will free you from yourself: from selfishness and a self preserving life.
He will free you from thinking that comfort and happiness in this world is the end goal of life…Instead you will long more and more for heaven…instead your hope will be…that all things will be made right in the end. Your hope will be inviting others to know Him…Your joy will be when you see others set free.
You will hold Jesus’ hand and consider the suffering He bore for you…and instead of thinking “wow look at what I am enduring” You will look at Him and say “Wow…what you endured Jesus was beyond what I have and am and ever will endure…Thank you..”
You will find yourself worshipping in the places that are wounded.
You will find yourself healing the deeper you trace His scars with your fingers. You may even find yourself looking in your heart someday and thinking wow…look at that bright shiny finish radiating through me…where has this light come from…and you will know…you will know…
It from the ONE who is never finished living.
The times I have experienced His presence the most powerfully and tangibly was when I was hurting. But if I had pushed Him away, if I had sought to numb my pain, if I had blamed Him for my suffering and accused Him of forsaking me…I would have missed the most beautiful moments of my life. The moments when He held me, the moments when He healed me.
The moments when I gave Him my grief and in exchange He gave me joy, hope and purpose.
Today, you have an invitation, an invitation to trust that the joy, healing and peace He has for you in exchange for your grief and sorrow will lead to an abundant life. It will not be a life free of scars, but a life scarred that has experienced the power of His resurrection.
When we come to Jesus with our hurt places He will give you your living finish.
Ask: Jesus, where do I hurt that you want to touch?
Write down what He says!
Ask: Jesus, what do you have in exchange for my hurt, pain and grief?
Write down what He says!
Receive: Thank you Jesus for what you are offering me in exchange for my pain. I receive it. Give me faith to believe that you can do more than I could ask or imagine.
Write it down and share with a trusted friend.
I am praying for you today and Happy Easter!