Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Yesterday morning as I went outside, the sky looked very ominous. The dark clouds were rolling in and the thunder was beginning in the distance. It seemed fitting weather on Good Friday. 

This is a day on the church calendar when we celebrate the death of Jesus, the righteous, sinless Son of God. Isn't that a bit bizarre that we "celebrate?" In some ways, this good day is terrible. Jesus was unjustly punished and put to death. And in some ways these dark foreboding clouds are fitting. When we have a storm here, we often lose electricity. In a recent storm, an aunt of one of the GSF house moms was killed by a lightning strike. 

While storms and Good Friday can seem like bad things, they also bring life. When Jesus died on the cross, he took the punishment that I deserve and gave me his perfect righteousness. His death has brought me eternal life. That is why we call this day "good." Storms also bring life here. The rainy season brings many new flowers, fruits and vegetables. In a place where so many people depend on their gardens to provide food for their families, these rains bring life. Even the rain itself is often collected as drinking water for those who don't have access to wells. Below is a photo of some of our vegetable gardens at GSF.

In my life, the storm that has been at times overwhelming is my ongoing struggle with my tongue. Honestly, even though I recently had a good check-up, fear about my tongue has been a constant struggle for me. A hundred times a day, every time I speak, eat, drink or swallow, I am confronted with the odd sensation of the damaged nerves. In most of these moments, my initial response is fear and anxiety. In these moments I often pray, asking God for healing and peace while I wait. Then I remind myself that I just had a check-up, that it will take time for the nerves to heal, etc. It is emotionally and spiritually exhausting to go through these emotions so many times every day. I have been struggling with the dark clouds of fear that this pain brings. That is part of the reason that I have not written in the past week or so.

While I often plead with God to take away this pain in my tongue, I am reminded how Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. Yesterday, I talked with all the children at GSF about how Jesus struggled and suffered in the garden. Three times he pleaded with God to take this cup from him, but then he submitted his will to the Father. "Not my will, but yours be done." Jesus knowingly, willingly went to Judas who was coming to betray him and deliver him to be crucified. He did this because of his love for the Father and his love for you and me. Please pray with me asking God to remove the pain in my tongue and bring complete healing. But I also want to pray that until God removes the pain, he will be glorified through this struggle in my life, that His will be done. Please pray that he will give me the strength to persevere in this struggle and trust him each of the hundred times a day fear and anxiety creep in. 

This Good Friday, I am reminded of some of my favorite verses from Romans 8. 

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."(Romans 8:22, 23, 26-28, 32, 35, 37-39 NIV)

This Easter weekend, let us cast our cares on Jesus. He is a high priest who understands our weakness. His Spirit is interceding for us. And most importantly, through his death and resurrection, we have eternal life! As I struggle through the storms, I pray that God uses this trial to bring life, growth and beauty in us all. 

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