Jesus to me…is family that doesn’t leave me at my lowest.
Jesus is a friend who never pushes me under the bus or sticks a knife in my back.
Jesus is love.
He is life.
Jesus is new beginnings.
He is comfort in times when I am hurting and He is a bright light when I feel like the darkness is closing in.
And today? On this special day thousands of years ago; Jesus got to see all His friends and tell them He wasn’t killed, HE WAS ALIVE.
That’s got to be the best experience ever, truly.
I know when I heard the news that my Dad had suddenly and unexpectedly died, I – as always – ran first to Jesus.
You can fix this, right? Right, Lord?
And I thought of those two words in the Bible that remind me every time that Jesus was a human…because they record that “JESUS WEPT“. When He lost a dear friend Lazarus and heard of his death, it hurt Jesus. JESUS CRIED OVER THE DEATH OF HIS FRIEND so if anyone would understand the pain I was going through in losing my Dad, it would be Jesus.
You brought Lazarus back from the dead in 3 days.
You yourself rose from the dead in 3 days.
(God must like things in 3’s, huh?)
So I figured in 3 days from the 4th of June, I’d see my Dad’s name and happy picture flash on my smartphone and I’d answer and he’d chuckle “Hello Chook!!! Well. That was a bit of a shock, hey?” and we’d laugh and grateful tears would stream down my cheeks and everything would be okay again.
Everything would be okay.
Jesus would take my pain and He’d fix it. He’d fix everything.
But my Dad was quickly (and I’m still FURIOUS with the Filipino Hospital staff for doing so) CREMATED the SAME DAY HE DIED.
How are you going to bring my Daddy back now that his bones have been turned to ash, Lord?
I felt like He’d left me.
At my lowest. In the most pain I have EVER experienced in my life – I felt like Jesus had left me.
I felt like there really were ONE set of footprints in the sand that day; The day my Dad was taken from us all. Just mine.
I felt like Jesus had abandoned me.
I felt like of all people – JESUS would be the last to dare to even think of leaving me like that, let alone to actually do it.
So I was ABSOLUTELY FURIOUS about it.
HOW FUCKING DARE YOU, JESUS?!! I remember the feeling as if it’s just now happening and wasn’t last June.
YOU SAID YOU WOULD ALWAYS BE WITH ME.
How could you take my Dad away and leave me with this ache that rings out from the marrow of my very bones? This pain that is felt at a CELLULAR level?
But I remember back to 2009 when I was going through such a bad, deep, severe, crippling depression (I call it “the great sadness”) and was considering hanging myself from my 2nd storey balcony…that I made one last ditch attempt before killing myself.
I rang Dalton back in the UK. Dalton is one of the Church Elders I was very close to and looked up to for many, many years.
“Where is He when I am hurting?” I demanded, tears streaming and my heart breaking.
“WHERE IS HE?!!”
And Dalton’s words will always stay with me since that day.
Dalton gently reminded me of the Scripture in Isaiah 43:2-3 where it says:
“When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior”.
“How is that helpful?” I asked, angry at the time.
But gently, as always Dalton was patient and filled with compassion and so much wisdom; Dalton told me to focus on the word WHEN.
WHEN means that Jesus won’t save us from all the pain in our lives. Maybe sometimes He will…but more often than not, He has a reason for us to go through it and we’ll see that in time.
WHEN means that bad, unfair, horrible, terrible things WILL HAPPEN. Pain WILL occur in our lives. Sickness will come. Death will come. Friends will leave. Relationships will fall apart. Our hearts will break. That is inevitable.
But Jesus? He’s not breakable.
So when my Dad died, Jesus went THROUGH THOSE WATERS of grief with me.
It is a dark, cold, stormy, FUCKING SCARY Ocean of grief I now exist in since my Dad died.
Jesus didn’t bring my Dad back.
But He didn’t abandon me, either.
He stayed close to me.
Jesus wrapped His arms around me when I struggled to stand that first week.
Jesus held my hand when I stood outside my office building and didn’t know if I’d have the strength to go back in after only a week off, grieving my Dad…which I still didn’t quite understand and only now and starting to come to grips with – only just.
JESUS WEPT when I did about my Dad.
He felt my pain and He walked quietly beside me through it.
He still does.
And today, on this very special day – we – I – am reminded that HE IS.
He just is.
So Jesus, I still don’t understand. It still fucking hurts (I’m so sorry for swearing but right now I’m allowing myself to do so because I’m angry and hurting so badly I feel like only the “F” word will suffice). I still miss my Dad. I still ache deep in my bones.
But I’m not confused any more about where you were – where you are – in all of my pain and suffering.
I’m not lost.
Yeah, I’m still in that deep, dark water and it is a bastard…but I am not alone.
Because YOU ROSE FROM THE DEAD.
You came down to Earth to stand with me when the news of Dad’s death came.
You stood with me when I went back to work.
You are with me in every job since and oh my word, they’ve been endless.
I’m still in these
But I’m going to be okay.
Because you are with me.
And that – that makes all the difference.