Today is the day we commemorate our Lord’s death in a cross. He sacrificed his own life to save ours; to give us eternal life. He experienced fear, betrayal, hurt, weariness and an unbearable physical pain caused by relentless whip lashes, a thorn crown, and the heavy weight of the cross He carried. Add to that the emotional anguish and pain that must have penetrated Jesus’s heart like a sharpened knife. He was surrounded by friends that denied him or gave him away, a coldblooded community that was full of hatred towards him for no reason, and an unsparing condemnation to death because someone made a wrong choice one day that brought sin to humanity. Jesus also witnessed his poor mother suffer and stand at the foot of the cross that held his tortured body with three nails. He was given vinegar in lieu of water when thirsty and felt abandoned, even by his own almighty Father, as he was crucified unmercifully. Now you tell me… why is this day called “Good Friday?” What the heck is good about it?
Well, in my very limited human mind, the obvious answer was, “NOTHING!” NO THING was good about that day. In fact, it’s the most solemn day of the year for us Christians. We respect it like no other and offer abstinence or sacrifices in solidarity with our Savior. It’s “Horrific Friday” or “Painful Friday” or… Anything but good! Unless, of course, you look at if with the eyes of faith. You see, it wasn’t until I encountered my own “Good Friday” (or Sunday, really) that I understood why a tragedy like the one we remember today could be called “good.”
August 25, 2013. Just the “sound” of that date brings tears to my eyes and a penetrating pain to my heart.. It’s as if I re-live the weight of the cross that I carried that day and the whip lashes of the unforgiving accident that took my daughter away. I –like Jesus- was full of faith and trusted my Father. I was sure He would reward me for being His follower and He’d save her… but He didn’t. He had the power to spare her, just how He had the power to spare Jesus when he asked for mercy: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” (Matthew 26, 39). The cup was not taken from Jesus and it sure wasn’t taken from me, despite my heartfelt pleas. He must’ve just listened to those words I learned from Jesus and whispered alongside the hospital stretcher that held her still little body: “but let it be your will…”
Two and a half years later, I realized that God didn’t save my daughter from drowning, but He did spare her from all the evil and pain she could have endured on this Earth. Furthermore, he didn’t spare me from carrying the heavy and afflictive cross of losing her, but He filled my life with blessings and opened my eyes to a life that transcends this world’s beauty and grandiosity. August 25 was not “Horrific Sunday” after all. It was a beautiful day because it was the last time I hugged my precious little girl and the first time I forcefully believed in eternity. My daughter’s last words to me were, “Mami, yo quiero estar donde tú estés” (Mommy, I want to be where you’re at). This was her way of saying, “Mommy, come with me”. At the time, I thought she meant to the pool, so I went in with her. But now I understand that her words had a deeper meaning. She wanted me to go with her… and I WILL SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE preparing for the day I do. I carry my cross with love because my goal (hugging my daughter again –in Heaven) supersedes the pain of losing her.
So what’s “good” about Good Friday? THE PURPOSE. Jesus lived a life with purpose and His death was no different. The pain Jesus endured did not compare to the utmost importance of his underlying motive: saving us. It was His compassion and unconditional love for us that gave Him the strength to carry that cross when his body wanted to give in. He knew his suffering was temporary, yet his purpose eternal. Christ would visualize each of our faces whenever He needed a push to carry on because he really didn’t want to fail us. He spent all day telling God who the people He was dying for were. That’s why He was silent when He stood before Pontius Pilate during His sentence. He was too busy saying each of our names and couldn’t afford to waste precious time. He said my daughter’s name, He said mine, and He said yours. Jesus died so that YOU could live forever. That alone makes his crucifixion worth it. You are His pride and joy, and He loves you like crazy! Good Friday was good because YOU were Christ’s purpose.
What is your purpose? How are you carrying your cross? Are you complaining, lamenting, blaming… or are you finding a reason to fulfill and overcome that cross? Whose faces are you visualizing to find strength? Whose names are you pronouncing as you offer your struggle to your Father? Make your day a “good day” by finding purpose in whatever it is that you’re enduring. Ask yourself, “What does God want me to learn from this?” Don’t waste your pain. If feels sucky now, but that’s only because it’s blocking the view of a world of blessings ahead. Hang on and have faith that “everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end” (John Lennon). No pain comes to you without a purpose. Find it and you may suddenly feel your cross get lighter ;).
Thank you, Jesus. I love you.
GOD OFTEN USES OUR DEEPEST PAIN AS THE LAUNCHING PAD OF OUR GREATEST CALLING -Unknown