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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hanging Between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection

Relevant Ministry Blog Schedule:
Tuesday - "About Spiritual Health in Life and Ministry"

Thursday - "About Relevant Women"


by Cyndi Coleman
As Christians, we spend much time talking about the crucifixion and the resurrection, and we should. After all, as Casting Crowns puts it in their song, “Oh Glorious Day,”

Living, He loved me, dying, He saved me.
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever…


These two events are what Jesus’ life was all about. The entire purpose of God wrapping himself in flesh was to come to Earth, to love us, to save us, and to justify us.

However, what we don’t usually spend much time thinking about, much less talking about, are the hours between these eternity-altering events. While those events are of utmost importance, I would like for us to focus on that span of time between the two events - the hours between the crucifixion and the resurrection. Have you ever paused to consider them? Those were some dark hours in many lives.

Although Jesus had told his disciples (and the women who also traveled with them) in no uncertain terms he would suffer and die; and then he would be raised three days later (Luke 9:22). However, once Jesus exhaled his last breath, and the tomb was sealed, their faith waned with panic and confusion set in. 

“Wasn’t he God?”  
“Wasn’t he all powerful?” 
“Why didn’t he save himself?” 

“What about the kingdom he talked about?”  
“What now? Am I next?”

Early, that Sunday morning, the women went to the tomb (Luke 24:1-8) bearing spices; much like we bring flowers to funerals and grave sites. It was a sign of their love and respect. They were there to mourn. They were not there to see if Jesus was still dead; they were certain he was. Finding the tomb empty was an unexpected, supreme shock! In fact, this discovery caused further confusion and insult to their already tormented and broken hearts. They assumed the body of Jesus had been stolen.

As I consider the course of events, Jesus died on Friday, but did not rise from the dead until Sunday. Think of those hours - Friday watching Jesus die, the burial, all day Saturday, all night Saturday. What do you suppose the disciples and other followers were feeling? Remember they had left all they knew behind in order to follow Jesus. They had spent the last three years following and loving him. They absolutely believed he was the long-awaited, prophesied Messiah. Now, Jesus was dead and so was their dream. I imagine as their hearts crumbled and their minds raced, they were recounting the sweet presence of Jesus coupled with the horrid, recent, events. More than likely, profound confusion and chaotic fear shrouded their minds. The feelings of anger, bitterness, devastation, maybe even betrayal, and utter hopelessness would be the company of their hearts. Their love and leader, “teacher,” as they affectionately called him, was dead - they had been abandoned by the one who said he never would leave them.

When I think over this story - the redemption of our souls, I usually go straight from Jesus’ brutal death to his mighty resurrection. Let’s pause on Saturday; those were the darkest and most desperate hours of their lives. Have you ever been there? Have you ever felt trapped by the darkness and the paralyzing despair of hopelessness? As I have traveled this desolate land many times, I relate well with David’s description of his own journey in Psalm 69:2, “I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.”

Have you ever felt engulfed, or overtaken by the flood waters of life’s sometimes disastrous surge? When these tides come our way, it is hard not to lose hope. I know, in my head, that God has promised he has good planned for me (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 18:19; Romans 8:28). He has declared himself as my very refuge and strength. I do know his resurrection power, but I can still behave as the hopeless and abandoned crew of the upper room.

When was the last time you felt hopeless and helpless? For me, both of these feelings are a pitiful mockery of everything Jesus said and did for me. When we allow these enemies of our souls to sneak into our hearts, they never come alone. They always bring along their friends, doubt and fear. Before we know it, we have tunnel-vision of a hell-on-earth with no escape.

Perhaps similar to that Saturday, you may be going through one the darkest times of your life and one day has now rolled into another weary day.  So let me encourage you - sweet, beloved, deliverance is on its way. “Where?”  “When?” I cannot tell you because I do not know; but let me tell you what I do know. God will not leave you in the desert place. In fact, though you may feel he has abandoned you, in reality, he has never been closer.

Dear one, I know the crushing pain and despair of that Saturday. Is that where you find yourself today? I have to admit, I have been there, lately. I, like the disciples, have seen God do miraculous works in my life and there are days, I feel I have loved Jesus more than anyone else has. I have declared him Victorious King of Everything. So, what’s the problem? Why do these dark days still come? If we know the truth, why do we despair? If we believe, why do we doubt? The answer isn’t easy, but it’s simple: life is hard. What we see is all we believe there is. We see no answer, no escape, no hope therefore we believe there is none. Pretty dismal isn’t it?

Here is our hope: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). The disciples believed Jesus when he cried from his parched throat, “It is finished” (John 19:30), but they had forgotten the promises of the resurrection. They were too blinded by what they saw to see the hope that was on its way. Often, we, too, are blinded by the very real distractions of our lives to remember the hope promised us. Though you may be caught in in the whirlwind of tornadic life with no vision of relief, do not give up! He is coming. He will make a way where there seems to be no way. Cling to this hope-filled verse today: “Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong , do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you’” (Isaiah 35:4). He will make “water gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:6b). In the haunt of your heart where the jackals ridiculed you and hopelessness sneered at you, the sweet grass of newness and the reeds of hopeful promise will grow (Isaiah 35:7 - altered).

How can you imagine a current hopeless situation improving?

What are the “impossible” things you need to rely on God for?

Who else is involved? How can you best pray for them right now?

How can you trust God to bring his Sunday morning resurrection power to your ordeal?


Remember, the seemingly obvious outcome may not be God’s plan, but you can trust him. Follow where he leads!


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For more about Relevant Women - RelevantMinistry.org/RelevantWomen


The purpose of Relevant Women:
Relevant Women exists to train women to minister relevantly, to discover and grow in God’s call in their lives and to serve in their churches as godly leaders.
 

RW accomplishes this by:
•Teaching life changing truth
•Building significant relationships
•Practicing spiritual disciplines
•Defining our personal stories
•Developing our personal ministry


At Relevant Ministry, our vision is to equip leaders to minister relevantly in churches that will be healthy and thriving.

Our mission, to fulfill this vision, is training future leaders - building healthy ministries - and serving on the Gulf Coast. 


2 comments:

  1. This is very powerful, and timely. I amencouraged by it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Lord loves us so much! It is from Him. I am so honored he used this to touch you.

    ReplyDelete

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