I’m writing this blog shortly after coming home from our Good Friday worship service, where we gathered around a cross and heard once again from Scripture about the arrest, suffering, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is a somber, reflective time, as we ponder all that Jesus went through for you and me.
At our service this evening we talked about death. Jesus’ death of course . . . but also our death. I spoke briefly of Layla Grace, and how she was the very first funeral that LifeBridge has done (our church is only a year and a half old). Many more are certain to come though . . . unless Christ returns and the world ends, every one of our lives will end in death.
I continue to receive a lot of comments from my previous blogs, and a common theme emerges in a lot of the responses. “Why?” Why did Layla have to die at just two years of age? Why did she have to suffer. Why didn’t God just heal her and make everything right?
This evening, as we gathered around the cross and remembered the suffering and death of Jesus, I was reminded of the lengths that Jesus went to do just that. On the cross, everything is made right. Satan is defeated, sins are paid for, our relationship with God is restored, and we are given the promise that through faith in Christ we will live forever. We believe all this by faith . . . Layla sees it with her own eyes. So very soon we will transition from this life to the next, and we’ll experience that “rightness” that we so long for. But, until then, we remain in our fallen broken world for a purpose. Jesus could have come back today and ended all the wrong, but he didn’t. Why not? Because there are still more people that need to come to faith and believe in him. He sees the big picture, the eternal picture, and he simply calls on us to trust him in the midst of a world that is often falling apart.
Here’s an image that resonates with me. Picture a woman who is making one of those hand stitched rugs. In and out her needle goes as she blends in all the various colors. She’s sitting on the back side of the rug, though, where all the cuts are made and knots are tied. From the back it looks terrible — frayed edges and bulky knots in seeming disarray. But the artist knows what she is doing, and as her expert hands make each stitch she is creating a beautiful work of art that will only be understood when you look at it from the front side.
That’s how life is. So much of what goes on doesn’t make sense or even seem right. All we see is the back side. But God has a plan and a purpose that goes far beyond our individual lives and circumstances. It is a plan done out of love — we know that because of the great lengths he went to save us. Tonight as our little mission church gathered around the cross of Jesus to remember his suffering, my overwhelming emotion was “thank you Jesus.” Thank you for suffering right alongside with me. Thank you for carrying a burden that I could not carry on my own. Thank you for giving me hope in the midst of some really tough things in life.
Because, you have to remember — Jesus rose. He came back to life. His journey involved suffering, but it didn’t end there. That’s our hope! No matter how bad or hopeless or non-sensical things seem to be, it doesn’t end there. At the end of life, there’s still more life. How do we know? Because Jesus already made that journey. And he promises that for us as well. That’s why we can thank God for the life, and the death, and the life of Layla Grace and all those who die in faith.
I pray that as you celebrate Easter this year, you will understand the depth of God’s love for you in a whole new way. You are precious to him.