Holy Saturday: The Trauma of The Cross

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Read Isaiah 53:3-6

3He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. 4Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrowsa that weighed him down.And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.

The Trauma of The Cross

Trauma is defined as “any negative life event that occurs in a position of relative helplessness,”(1) or “any event or situation that changes your vision of yourself and your place in the world in a negative way”(2).

I remember the call… I can feel the emotion even now. I was 14 years old. The caller told my parents that my older brother had been critically burned in a forest fire in Colorado. I adored my brother. He was being airlifted to a burn trauma center in New Mexico. Four other firefighters died at his side on the mountain and his fate was very uncertain. We were on the other side of the country in New York… helpless. The thought of losing my brother, his suffering, our inability to help – it was overwhelming. My world had been shaken.

Imagine that first Saturday after the crucifixion. Jesus lies dead in a sealed tomb. You saw your beloved friend horrifically murdered. You thought he was the answer, and now he’s gone. Confusingly, it was the religious men who hated him and demanded crucifixion. Now the city is in turmoil and you fear for your life.  Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 6.07.23 PM

The Roman Guard is on high alert and tension fills the air. Jewish religious leaders are crazed, having called for the release of a notorious prisoner named  Barabbas, not Jesus (Mt.27:17). They are frantic, trying to make sense of the damage to the veil of the temple which was torn from top to bottom. At the same time, Jerusalem is filled with fear, having experienced an earthquake the night before. Some are grappling with their role and wondering if they just killed the Son of God (Matthew 27:51-54). The world is literally and physically shaking.

That day, the trauma of the cross was overwhelming. The unfinished, unresolved, horrific loss leaves our minds and bodies in a frozen state of broken, defensive anxiety. Our souls long for healing and wholeness. The most precious intimate relationship ever has been destroyed – or so we think.

Sitting with the tension of unresolved pain is hard, it always is. There is hope that the resolution will come tomorrow, that joy will come in the morning. It was promised long ago (Gen 3:15) and promised by Jesus (John 14-17). But for today, we must sit with our pain and trust in His presence.

PRAYER:

Father, be with us in the tension and in the traumas of life, big and small. Help us to learn from our pain and meet us in it. Hold us, heal us. We look forward to the joy of the coming morning and lifeeverlasting. Amen.

 

(1) Dr. Robert Scaer, author of The Trauma Spectrum; (2) Judy Crane, author of The Trauma Heart.
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#21 – 40 Days of Kindness

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Read Ezekiel 37:1-14

1The LORD took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the LORD to a valley filled with bones. 2He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. 3Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

“O Sovereign LORD,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

4Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the LORD! 5This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! 6I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

7So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. 8Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them.

9Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’”

10So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army.

11Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ 12Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the LORD. 14I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the LORD has spoken!’”

AMAZING VITALITY

Parched and bleached by the sun, the brittle bones scattered across the valley presented a vision that summoned two words to the prophet’s mind – death and discouragement. The only thing more discouraging than the vision itself was the fact that God’s own people were represented by these dead bones. Israel was as good as dead, and their re-vitalization required God’s miraculous intervention.

Ezekiel’s vision reminds us that God is the author of life and that he alone miraculously brings vitality to us when we are dead in sin and wandering in the valley of death. We may at times wonder about friends or family we’ve prayed for over the years or situations that seem to be lifeless. We may even wonder about your church, when she seems to be struggling and not vital.

But notice v.10, as Ezekiel spoke, that is, as he trusted God and did what God called him to do, the dry bones lived. Bones came together, were wrapped by muscle and skin, and death was defeated. The bones began to thrive!

The lesson is that God is powerful and pleased to bring vitality to that which seems to be dry and lifeless. Ezekiel was unsure himself, but he trusted God and, in faith, did as God commanded. This new life is ultimately the new birth we experience in Jesus Christ, because he conquered death and rose from the grave. This vitality is promised to His Bride, the church, when we by faith trust in our Savior and follow his ways.

PRAYER:

Father, sometimes I look around and see a lot of lifeless, listless apathy, and it can be discouraging. Help me to trust in your plan, your purpose and your power to bring life and vitality to me and to your bride, and to follow you faithfully. AMEN.