Personally, I’d like to be indestructible. You know, like superman, only more so.
There’s a good reason:
I don’t like pain in any of its many varieties. I don’t like being hurt. I don’t like being vulnerable. I don’t like being fragile.
I try to explain all this to God. “Just think of the advantages,” I tell Him. “If I were indestructible, I wouldn’t be afraid of anything. You could ask me to do anything, and I’d do it.”
God must laugh. The angels, if they listen to prayers, they must laugh too.
“But, wait a second, God,” I tell Him. “You’re indestructible. Nobody can back you into a corner. Nobody can make you squirm. If I pointed a revolver at You and commanded You to hand over all Your money, You’d send Your servants, the police, to me; they’d come and lock me up.”
But I’m on a roll, so I go on. I come to this verse in the Bible:
I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11 NIV
“While You’re at it, God, couldn’t you take this verse about ‘the fellowship of His sufferings’ out of the Bible? It bothers me. I don’t like suffering.”
I sit there, knowing full well that God isn’t going to do any of these things I’m praying for, but feeling good for having gotten these feelings out on the table.
But, slowly, an uneasy feeling starts to come over me. I can’t quite put my finger on it. The fellowship of His sufferings. The phrase rings over and over again in my mind. The fellowship of His sufferings.
Then it occurs to me that the path to resurrection indestructibility—at least for Jesus—was paved with thorns, with nails, with drops of blood, with contempt and injustice and humiliation.
It seems like every time Jesus surrendered to one level of pain and humiliation, another deeper level was waiting for him, until, finally, life itself was given away.
He was crucified in weakness.
Oh, I know the theology. I know that He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
But there’s something more here. Otherwise, why would He reach through the centuries and ask me—ask you—to fellowship with Him in His suffering?
Why is He so lonely?
I don’t know why I started crying. Except that I started feeling the hurt of Jesus. I started to uncover a fragile and vulnerable side to God I never knew existed.
And, in stumbling into this, I begin to feel that all the hurts and fears I’ve worked so hard to protect are okay with Him. I don’t have to hide them any more.
What is my path to resurrection? I don’t know. I just know that sometimes it will hurt. And I know, in the end, I will have to give away everything—all my strength, all my defenses, my very life.
But, suddenly, that feels okay.
Easter Sunday. The Day of Resurrection. A resurrected Lord comes to visit his flock of weak, vulnerable and frightened disciples. His greeting? “Peace to you.” The same word He used to calm the convulsing Sea of Galilee: “Peace.”
Once again, Jesus reaches through the centuries. He speaks to you and He speaks to me. “Peace.”
How is it that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us? How is it that we can stand up to the storms in our lives? The resurrected Lord is here. He speaks through us: “Peace.”
All around us storms rage. People hurt. People cry out in pain. But we, the light of this world, carry a great healing gift to our generation.
It’s okay. Jesus is here.
Photo credit: Adapted from a photo by Tatrattery, Flickr, Creative Commons License