There is a hope that lifts my weary head,
A consolation strong against despair,
That when the world has plunged me in its deepest pit,
I find the Saviour there!
Through present sufferings, future’s fear,
He whispers ‘courage’ in my ear.
For I am safe in everlasting arms,
And they will lead me home.
-Stuart Townend, There is a Hope
As I meditate on Jesus’s passionate prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, his human agony and suffering on full display, I am reminded how often I also long for God to provide another way for me in the face of suffering. All Christians struggle with following Jesus down the via dolorosa, the way of suffering. We are more comfortable with following Jesus in his victorious into Jerusalem to be enthroned and crowned the king. We often clamor for that kind of victory borne out in our lives as the absence of difficulty or struggle. We are tempted towards the glory and the grandeur of Palm Sunday. But as author Kim Reisman has noted, “[T]hat is not the Jesus way. God doesn’t dispense with death. God resurrects us from it. The truth is that the Jesus way isn’t about God taking pain away from God’s people; it’s about God providing us with strength, courage, and meaning, with abundant life, often in the midst of pain.”
I am always thankful then, for this very human portrait of Jesus struggling with his own suffering in agony. Jesus struggled as I do. And while I often reluctantly say to God, “Not my will but yours be done,” I put my faith in the God who is able to transform the evil of suffering and affliction into salvation and death into life for all who believe.
Sit with me and tell me once again
Of the story that’s been told us
Of the power that will hold us
Of the beauty, of the beauty
Why it matters
Speak to me until I understand
Why our thinking and creating
Why our efforts of narrating
About the beauty, of the beauty
And why it matters
Like the statue in the park
Of this war torn town
And it’s protest of the darkness
And the chaos all around
With its beauty, how it matters
How it matters
Show me the love that never fails
The compassion and attention
Midst confusion and dissention
Like small ramparts for the soul
How it matters
Like a single cup of water
How it matters
-Sara Groves, “Why it matters”
“Nature trembled and said with astonishment:
What new mystery is this?
The Judge is judged and remains silent;
the Invisible One is seen and does not hide himself;
the Incomprehensible One is comprehended and does not resist;
the Unmeasurable One is measured and does not struggle;
the One beyond suffering suffers and does not avenge himself;
the Immortal One dies and does not refuse death.
What new mystery is this?”
-Second-century bishop Melito of Sardis
“For one human being to love another:
that is…the work for which all other work
is but preparation.”
-Rainer Maria Rilke
Jesus, you are the King of Glory and the King of Creation.
Teach us to recognize the ways of your kingdom that we might participate as faithful and devout residents in the space between a broken world and the coming kingdom of God.
-Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals
Check out this powerful, beautiful, and free! lenten playlist from Red Mountain Music that I recently stumbled across. (tips suggested!)
And if you are wanting more, here is the link to the one I put together last year as well.
May this season be meaningful and rich and we continue to journey through lent.