Growing up in a Christian home (attending church since even before I was born), the story of Jesus dying for my sins on the cross, as well as the subsequent rising from the grave on the third day, was an accepted fact. It was the story that we banked our entire lives (and afterlife) on. Our entrance into Heaven and the presence of the Almighty depended on our profession that the story was true and the protagonist would forever be the Lord of our lives. To this day, this truth remains the crux of my very being…my identity…my purpose.
Alas, as with most stories that are repeated time after time, year after year, this one began to lose its luster. There were those who made attempts to retell the story in new and fresh ways, and others who believed simply retelling it verbatim was the most holy method of delivery. But no matter how unique or familiar the way the story was retold, it seemed the same.
Jesus died to pay the price for our sin. He went to Hades to pay our debt. He broke out on the third day, overcoming death so that we no longer would suffer its sting. Ever.
It’s great news. It’s the best news ever. But it’s news that seems to fade into the background and lose its spark.
Until the spark was renewed. This week.
In the midst of the COVID-19 social distancing/quarantine/stay-at-home mandate, I have experienced a level of isolation I have never experienced before in my life. I felt abandoned by the world, as my extrovert soul has been dying for the company of other human beings.
Like…lots of human beings…of partying proportions.
As Passover Wednesday faded into Maundy Thursday, I found that the feelings of isolation had left me exhausted, but suffering from insomnia. I sat at my desk…my sanctuary…my space in this world that I feel closest to God on the day to day…and journaled my heart out.
“I wish I had someone to talk to. But my outlets seem so distant now.”
“I don’t know who to talk to about this.”
“Hope is waning. But I still hope God will hear me and speak into my feelings.”
Then, just as the candle burned into late night/early morning hours, light illuminated the darkness. I realized that if there was ever a time to remember that Jesus knew how I felt in this exact moment, it was the very next day.
When Jesus suffered excruciating pain and death on our behalf.
But while the physical and mental pain described in the story is nothing I would ever want to face in my lifetime, it was the emotional suffering He endured that hit me. He was isolated…and not just from other humans as he hung on that cross. He was abandoned and isolated from the Father. It was a separation that He had dreaded, but willingly submitted Himself to and endured.
For me…so that I may have relationship with the Father.
So that I may know Him and dwell with Him forever.
So that I would never have to experience complete isolation from the Almighty.
So in this season of self-isolation and separation, I remember that the isolation I feel does not compare to that which my Savior endured. To feel in part today what He felt on that cross then, the truth of the love that led Him to the cross will always be a source of comfort to me.
It is a story that will always speak the love of the One who will never abandon me, even to the point of death on a cross, in new ways. He truly paid it all for me.
And for you.
For us all.