April 03

“Father, forgive them.”

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[c] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

It’s here. Officially the most depressing day of the year. It weighs heavily on us. And I don’t understand why it had to play out this way. I’ve read all of the explanations about why Jesus had to die but it doesn’t compute for me. And it’s not just that he had to die, it’s the horrific and inexplicable way he had to die! They couldn’t just poison him? They have to crucify him?! And taunt and spit on him? And beat him and put a crown of thorns on his head? And make him suffer for six hours in the heat of the day?

Suffering rarely seems to make sense either. The stories of the black men, yes — they’re are almost always poor and black — who spend 30 yrs in prison for crimes, it turns out, that they couldn’t have possibly committed. And the pictures of young children with cancer who never even had a chance. Or the children of Haiti or Syria or any other war-torn area. Or my high school BFF, Navy Captain Steve, who survived the Gulf War only to be killed by a drunk driver a few years ago. Why does there have to be so much suffering?

The only explanation I’ve ever been able to come up with is that Jesus suffered so terribly so we would know that he understands our own suffering. He holds our hands through it. He knows the depth of our suffering and I believe, has a special place in his heart for the suffering of innocent children and adults alike. He also knows that our suffering often leads to our greatest ministry. My heartbreaks and your heartbreaks allow us to minister to each other. And that is what I sincerely wish I could do to each of you. I wish I could be there to lighten your loads and remind you that in times of your suffering, Jesus is there with you, guiding you through your pain, knowing that Easter will come.