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Tenebrae: literally; Darkness

Holy Week has arrived. Truly my heart’s desire was to be able to gather with my church family this week but that was not the Lord’s will.

I have spent this week in contemplation of the cross. I think as believers we don’t like to linger there. We love to run on to the joyful celebration (rightly so) of the resurrection but we don’t like to sit and gaze at the destruction of the cross. We may pause for a moment but even then, Easter is in the back of our minds. We have that luxury because we know the whole story.

So this week, I have put myself in other peoples’ places. I have read through each Gospel account of the betrayal and death of Jesus but stopped reading at the burial. I have walked in the garden with Jesus and felt his loneliness and desperation, as he knows all that is about to come upon him. As he cries out to the Father for another way but fully submits himself to the pain of betrayal, of desertion, and of physical suffering beyond belief.

I have sat with the disciples as they casually fall asleep when they should have been praying. I hear Jesus’ gentle rebuke and plea and his understanding as he knows how weak we are. I have felt the disciples’ utter confusion and hopelessness as they see their leader torn away and crucified before them. What is going on??

I have wept at the tenderness of Christ on the cross. Experiencing the worst pain I can think of, yet still caring for others. He sees his mother and thinks of her welfare by placing her in the care of his beloved friend. He asks forgiveness of those who are killing him. He ministers to the thief hanging to die beside him and gives him hope.

As he hangs there, the earth is filled with darkness. The Father turns his face away from the sin that he can’t behold and Jesus is left all alone. He cries out in despair and the curtain that separates man from God is torn in two. Scripture has been totally fulfilled in every way.

The Son of God gives up his spirit.

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2020 in salvation

 

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The Empathetic Psalm

Did you know there is a difference between empathy and sympathy? Yeah, I didn’t either (nor had I really thought about it) until a couple years ago. It was around that time that my best friend (Natalie) found this video which, you really should watch:

Empathy vs. Sympathy

I’m going to let you in on a personal secret. Whenever Natalie or I are having a particularly bad day, we will usually whisper to the other person, “It’s dark down here.” We both know the reference and know what the other person needs.

It’s been pretty dark lately. There hasn’t been any big, terrible event. I’m just flat-out depressed. I feel numb, emotionless, and worn. When other people say they are running on Jesus and Coffee they usually laugh, but for me, that is dead reality. No joking.

Psalm 88 is one of the unusual and rarely read Psalms. It’s not like the others. It doesn’t start out with the author in pain, despair, or depression and end with him full of hope. It actually starts and ends pretty much the same. I would really encourage you to read the whole thing but here are some snippets of it:

“I cry out day and night before you” 

“For my soul is full of troubles and my life draws near to Sheol”

“I am a man who has no strength”

“You have put me in the depths of the pit”

“I am shut in so that I cannot escape”

“O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?”

“I suffer your terrors; I am helpless”

And on it goes. You read that and tell me that the author didn’t struggle with depression. You read most of the Psalms and tell me that. It’s pretty low.

But when I read these words, I feel empathy from men that lived thousands of years before me. Men who firmly believed in God’s perfect will but struggled with their hearts and minds. The author even admitted (I love this) that God was loving, faithful, wonderful, and righteous in verses 11-12 of this Psalm but only to say that he wouldn’t be able to tell of these things if he died.

It’s even encouraging to me that this Psalm doesn’t end the way all the others do. We don’t like to sit in darkness and depression and we DEFINITELY don’t like to sit with others during those times. But sometimes that’s where God has placed us or those around us.

Sometimes empathy is asked, not sympathy. Sometimes life is more like Psalm 88 than Psalm 89.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2019 in encouragment

 

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