I don’t know if life is getting harder, if I’m getting older and with age comes more awareness of the pain and struggles of life, or if our world being full of ways to know about and see more of what is going on in lives around us lets us experience more people’s pain. Maybe it’s a combination of all three. All I know is that sometimes the picture is just not pretty. Things that do not make sense, aching hearts, terrible consequences for sin, unexplained nightmares of trials seem to surround us. You can find countless blogs of dying children, recovering victims, endless poverty, and could engulf yourself in the gaping need of the hearts all around us. Even those who have “good lives” know their own pain and their own heartaches, whatever others see on the outside.
As we get ready to celebrate this Easter weekend, I began thinking that sometimes I believe a hurting world grows weary of only hearing about Sunday. To those of us who understand it, the promise of Sunday is the most brilliant light in our hearts, the most assured, joyous rock of existence…the resurrection is coming. Whatever happens today, it is not the end of the story. It may be a black Friday of pain, but Sunday is coming. It’s no wonder that we are quickest to want to share with others the King of Sunday. Resurrection is beautiful! It is promise fulfilled, all made right, an empty tomb, death defeated. It is the perfect embodiment of hope which is the essence and purpose of life.
But I wonder at times if we need to stop and remember that timing can be everything. That for the hurting hearts around us, there is a need for the King of Friday before the radiance of the King of Sunday. The One who hung on the cross before the One who sits glowing on the throne. We can be tired, worn, and faith can be a glimmer of something we just can’t get our hands around for today. We want to reach for the light coming from that rolled back stone, but for today, we are stuck in the darkness of the present. The black clouds and earthquakes and realization that the world has really messed up this time. We will need a King of Sunday, desperately and completely, but today we need to be reminded of a different type of comfort.
He wasn’t just the King of Sunday, He was the King of Friday, too.
There isn’t a person among us untouched by pain. However we go forward in our lives and whatever is evident to an observer, there has been that place of darkness for us. For each one it is different and is woven with all the joys and normalities of life. There is no separating all the experiences that make up our whole. I was hit unexpectedly the other day while reading to my children. I had a book explaining the miracle of life happening as God develops baby Natalie in my womb. There were beautiful pictures showing the promise of life as a baby goes from its very beginnings to a small person we recognize and who is ready to live outside its mother. As I was sitting between my kids turning pages, suddenly I came to a full page illustration and felt like someone had knocked the breath out of me. I had been thinking about Natalie and all the joys of expecting this baby and my mind had been focused only in that happy direction. The kids were waiting for me to continue talking, telling them about God’s work in the babies’ body to prepare it and to help it to grow. But with the turn of a page suddenly I was reliving some very dark, Friday moments. I was staring at a picture of what I have held in my hands as I shook with sobs from my head to my toes. Such a familiar sight. Five times that sight has not been a carefully concealed, growing promise, safe in my womb, but for the moment has been for me a snuffed hope for the present as I miscarried another little loved, longed for child. And in that moment I have absolutely known that Sunday was coming, but right now Friday was surrounding me with its heartache and death. In those times what has held me fast is not only knowing that the King of Sunday would be there to fulfill every promise I look forward to, but also knowing He was the King of Friday and He was going to live THAT moment with me. He was not going to sit on His throne and promise me hope and a future as I ached and cried. No, a beaten, pierced, battered King of Friday was going to wallow in my pit with me, wipe my tears, patch my wounds, and remind me that He chose to walk this path beside me. He chose to leave that throne for a time so that He could sit in that dark Friday with me, hold me, and say, “I know. I know.” And He does. And with His life and on that Friday He purchased the right to always be the One who can comfort above all others, who can get in our moments of betrayal, loss, hurt, forsakenness, bereavement. Those He loved denying Him, those who had followed Him calling for His innocent death, His own Father turning His face from OUR darkness and muck and sin piled on His loving shoulders. Oh, He purchased every, single right to be the King of that Friday and of every, single Friday you and I ever experience.
We have an easier time sharing our Sunday story with others. It has answers and endings that we like. It is beautiful and should be shouted from the rooftops to all who will listen. But just like that movie or book you’ve seen or read a hundred times where you know it ends well and you still cry when things are hopeless in the middle, we live in a world that needs to know who will dry the tears right now. I cannot fathom a life where I have to face one Friday moment without Him. That King who suffered for me, hurt with me, paid it all for me. And then, as He ministers to the blistered, hurting hearts around us and in us, I think maybe His knowing tears of shared pain heal us enough that we can handle the blinding, transforming light of that Sunday on its way. That cross makes the bridge from our dark present into that glorious future and our hearts are ready to try to grasp what He promises. I loved how my three year old put it yesterday. He said, “And Jesus was up on that cross and He said, THAT’S IT!” I get chills. Because of what He sacrificed on Friday, my Jesus can look at this mess and say, “THAT’S IT!” And then all the beauty of Sunday will break forth in a way we can’t even imagine now. To the point that we forget the darkness in a light so blinding that we suddenly can’t remember what darkness was. Can you stand it? Oh yes, let’s get down there with the hurting hearts and show them their King of Friday who will walk this moment with them while our hearts continue to sing inside because Sunday’s coming. Sunday’s coming.