By Miriam Rossow
Death is ugly. It doesn’t seem to matter if the death is expected or unexpected. It doesn’t seem to matter if the death is hoped for to release pain from the person or if it is sudden and for no reason. Death hurts. Death causes brokenness. Death is loss.
My dad died 3 years ago. He had cancer that we thought was gone after surgery but like cancer often does it reared its ugly head again and this time was not treatable. My dad was granted the ability to enjoy his life until the very end. For which I am very grateful.
About a week before he died we believe he had a stroke that stopped his body from being able to do the most basic functions. He laid in his bed for 5 days not being able to eat or talk. And his breathing was labored. As I sat next to him listening to him struggle for breath I remember praying that the Lord would allow Him to die and be free from this world and its struggles while at the same time not wanting to say goodbye and let him go. What a strange place to be, both wanting death and not wanting it!
What a strange place to be, both wanting death and not wanting it!
As we walk to the cross this week with Jesus we are confronted with death and a death that seems like it could have been avoided. We are confronted with a death we both want and don’t want. Without Jesus’ death and resurrection the payment for our sins would not have been made and yet this is God we are talking about and so it seems like He could have dealt with this in another way. So I both want this death and I don’t want the death of friend and Savior.
And when you look at Jesus it seems He struggled with this as well in the garden praying for both God’s will to be done and for the cup to be taken from Him. When life seems hard and unfair and we are asked to sit in it how do we hold onto God’s will in that? What shall I say? Nevertheless.
What shall I say? Nevertheless.
God’s way seems so backwards. Why does He have His Son tortured, survive the torture to endure more torture, and then be killed in the most undignified and painful way possible at that time? Why does He allow our lives to be full of suffering when we are following Him and looking to Him? Why does He allow us to sit in the grief of death? Nevertheless.
God does not seem to do anything the way we expect. The cross which is humiliating and painful becomes the glory of God. The very thing that seems to have stripped Jesus of His glory is the thing that glorifies Him and draws the world to Him. On the cross it looks like the devil has won and his reign is established. When in fact it is in the cross that the devil is defeated. In the cross God’s reign is glorified and the devil is broken.
The very thing that seems to have stripped Jesus of His glory is the thing that glorifies Him and draws the world to Him.
As we sit in the suffering that God has allowed in our lives His glory is often found in a bigger way than if God listened to us and delivered us from all evil all the time. Each time we die to ourselves and our wants and our desires and turn to God, He is glorified. I have many friends who as they sit in pain, loss, and struggle show me God and His glory. This is not to say God likes our pain and suffering. This is not to say God wants that for us. No, in fact, Jesus prayed also that the pain, suffering, and death be taken away. It is not in the original blueprint. When Jesus comes again His glory will be known by all and shown in the way we expect, with power and might. That day is not yet and so we sit in the nevertheless moments.
When Jesus comes again His glory will be known by all and shown in the way we expect, with power and might. That day is not yet and so we sit in the nevertheless moments.
As I sat with my dad at his bedside and prayed for both his death and his healing I sat in this nevertheless prayer. I sat with the realization that death feels and looks like the devil winning. I sat in the realization that although Jesus did not intend for this death to happen He had control and victory over my dad’s death.
I prayed with Jesus, ‘Take this cup away, nevertheless your will, Father.’ And in that prayer Jesus was glorified. In that prayer I sat in the trust and knowledge that although the cross seems backwards, it is the victory. It is my victory. It is my dad’s victory. It is Jesus’ victory!
In that prayer I sat in the trust and knowledge that although the cross seems backwards, it is the victory.
And so we pray with Jesus, ‘Take this cup from me, Nevertheless, your will be done.’
Join us for Holy Week services as we walk with Jesus to the cross. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday at 7 P.M. and Easter at 9 A.M. and 11 A.M.