This evening began mildly enough, but it has ended with a storm. Rain has fallen in sheets, at times almost gushing from the clouds. Jags of lightning have cracked the sky in half, chased by banging, echoing thunder.
The sky’s unrest reflects what’s in my heart.
Sometimes, things are just hard. Trying (unsuccessfully) to remember all my family needs for an activity-filled evening. Rushing to arrive on time. Changing plans on a dime. Making difficult parenting decisions. Doubting whether I’m doing the right thing. Knowing there’s more to be accomplished later. Wondering where the energy will come from. Realizing it’s just not there.
It’s the kind of night my friends seem to muscle through with grace and good humor to spare.
It’s the kind of night that makes me feel less-than-capable. The kind of night that troubles me. The kind of night that makes the storm even more tumultous.
I should be stronger. Less easily ruffled. More grounded. Peace-full.
Even when there’s a storm. Especially when there’s a storm.
Sometimes that’s what I believe about myself. Because sometimes that’s what I believe about Christ. Especially as I imagine Him walking towards the most difficult, excruciating experience of all. A walk we commemorate today—Maundy Thursday, the eve of His crucifixion.
Sometimes I imagine that His divinity somehow exempted Him from really tasting the awfulness of those days. Was it just a matter of reminding Himself that everything would end up okay? Did He simply put on His "game face" and supernaturally push through the pain?
When that’s what I imagine about Him, I begin to think I’m called to respond the same way. That I should show the same ease. That if I’m truly connected to my Heavenly Father, the pain of circumstances won't really hurt all that badly. That a believer--at least a legitimate one—is always strong, always confident, always unwavering.
But tonight has forced me to remember again: I simply can’t live up to the “ironwoman” version of supernatural strength in the midst of difficulties. And trying to simply overwhelms me. Of course, this leads me to wonder why, makes me fear some sort of spiritual deficiency, raises a frightening question: is there something fundamentally wrong with me, with my faith?
The storm grows fiercer, more menacing.
But I must remember:
Jesus didn’t keep a stiff upper lip. He didn’t don a Teflon coat to block all pain.
On the eve of His awful death, the fully-human-fully-divine Christ truly tasted sorrow. He drank deeply of it.
The sadness overwhelmed Him. And He did not disguise it.
Not at all.
In the darkness of the garden, He gave complete expression to His own heart's storm. He admitted it to God. He admitted it to His friends. He admitted it to Himself.
On the eve of His death for my countless flaws and overwhelming weaknesses, His admission gives me great comfort.
Christ's storm-wracked heart that night didn't come in a moment of weakness. It is no flaw in His character.
It was a vital part of His divine nature.
On this stormy night, it still is.