Good Friday Reflection for March 30, 2018: “A Child’s Pain, A Father’s Tears”

For many years, Good Friday was the day I set aside to do one thing:
To be mad at God.
To be disappointed in him.
And I don’t mean God the Creator.
I mean God, the Father.

Because it is on Good Friday when we get the difficult passage from Matthew 27:
Where Jesus cries out in a loud voice (it’s not often we get this type of descriptions of speech and sound in the gospel): “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus quotes directly from the beginning of the 22nd Psalm
A Plea for Deliverance from Suffering and Hostility attributed to King David
“1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;”

For many years,
Especially as someone who years ago has experienced issues of abandonment from friends I could not wrap my head around God the Father’s action
Better yet Inaction when it came to watching His son suffer.
For a long time, I thought
There had to be a better way
Why did it have to come to this?
Why did God let this happen to his own son?
So in many prayers and conversations with God I would say, “Yeah. God. Where were you? You could have stopped this. But instead you let your son suffer. Some father you turned out to be.”

Let me use more of Psalm 22 because it helps paint the picture of more scenes we get on Good Friday:

“12 Many bulls encircle me,
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
15 my mouth[a] is dried up like a potsherd,
16 For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shriveled;[b]
17 I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

I mean who would let this happen to his own son.
And why?

Then I got my answer.
It was February 19th 2014
The day after my son, Paul, was born.
A nurse came into the room and told us that Paul had to undergo a blood test.
Being a parent of less than 24 hours, I asked why.
She said most newborns are born healthy, but there are some health problems that may not be detected by a routine exam by the doctor.
So a blood test is necessary to screen for these conditions that may cause intellectual disability or death.
And its required in all states.
So we said “go for it.”
That was the easy part.
Then came the test.
For the test to work, the nurse has to take a few drops of blood by pricking Paul’s heel.
The nurse said, “Now this MIGHT hurt.”
There was no MIGHT.
It DID.
The testing took about 5 minutes, but it felt like five hours.
Paul was in pain.
Crying at the top of his lungs.
Crying for help.
His precious little feet flapping and trying to get away from the nurse’s hands
All the while I was holding on to him for dear life.
Powerless.
All I could do is hold him and say over and over again, “I’m sorry, buddy. I’m so sorry. I love you, son. I love you.”
I was angry and sad and heartbroken,

But It was necessary.
It had to be done.
And there was nothing I could do but let it happen.

That day opened my eyes to a little of what God went through on that Good Friday.
What Jesus did was necessary.
It had to be done.
It was a requirement.
No one else could do what Jesus.
Give up one’s life for others.
Give up one’s standing for others.
To take the nails that were meant for someone else.
To take Down the Devil at the Devil’s own game.

And in order for it to stick, to go in effect,
God, the Creator, had to say yes to the Cross.
God, the Father, had to say yes to do nothing but watch.
And mourn.
To grieve.
And somehow someway remind Jesus, “I am sorry. I love you, Son,”
And then he had to wait until it was over, or as Jesus says, “It is finished.”
What was finished was the suffering.
What was finished was the Devil’s days as the victor.

What was NOT finished was Jesus and God as son and father.
For it was God who raised Jesus on the third day.
Not even the Devil could separate Father from Son.

God was always near.
And you know where it says that?
Psalm 22
For in the same Psalm that begins with words of abandonment ends with praise and assurance:
“Yet it was you (God) who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;[e]
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,[f]
but heard when I[g] cried to him.

God did not turn away from Jesus.
God was there.

And God does not turn away from us in our times of complete and utter sadness.
God is here.
Grieving
Crying with us
Holding us
And telling us “I am sorry, my child. I love you.”

Today I don’t want you to think of God as a mean and absent father.
I want you to see a Father who knew what had to be done
Knew who had to do it
And Knew what He could not do.

I want you to see a Father who mourned.
A Father who hurt

But a Father who allowed this to happen,
This pain,
This horror,
So that we could experience
Healing and joy.

For that, I am no longer angry.
I am eternally grateful.