This past weekend was a tough one.
I received the news about fifty minutes before the morning service was to begin. A good friend was gone. It shook me to the core. I raced to get all the information and then put it “on the back burner.” I had a full morning of services, responsibilities and people to serve. One of the hardest lessons I learned early into my ministry career is that you will have to put grief and mourning on hold as you lead other people through their own journey. I still find time to grieve but it is on my own.
I have faced some difficult situations in my life. When people pass away, it causes everyone to stop, evaluate and ask questions. Even when they have lived a full life, losing a loved one is a unique, difficult journey. Even when people are facing life threatening challenges like cancer, it is intense. Our minds race through all the scenarios and it is hard to focus on the good as much as the bad. Sometimes, life is just hard.
One of the toughest messages I ever had to preach was the funeral of a little boy who died of cancer. As I struggled with loss itself (he was very close to our family), I found a principle that I have implemented into my spiritual walk when things get tough.
On the day Jesus Christ was crucified in the most heinous death in history… it was the worst day in the history of the world. A perfect, innocent man willingly died for the sins of the world. He was mocked, beaten and ridiculed before dying in the cruelest forms of torture and death. His mother saw it first hand, while those who followed closest to him abandoned him except one. His enemies rejoiced in a false victory. He even felt the isolation and loneliness of separation from God. On that day, not one person ran to the cross and said, “Thank you for the Jesus’ death on the cross.” Three days later, hope began to spring when the tomb was revealed empty. Later we read, that same death proclaimed by the apostles throughout the book of Acts drawing men and women into a relationship with God. History tells of the life and death of Christ being preached and celebrated. It is because of the worst day in history, that you can have the greatest day in your history. And today, the symbol of the worst day in history, is actually the symbol of the greatest victory in the history of mankind. The cross is the bridge for man to have a relationship with God.
With a relationship with God, you can face life’s toughest situations with hope, peace and love. Situations are still difficult and painful. They still are a journey that takes time, reflection and community to walk through. Yet, when you merge hope, peace and love into life’s toughest challenges, God does amazing things.