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Hope from atrocity

Now, I don’t mind chaos. Sometimes, I even thrive on it. But these past few weeks, the ups and downs of life have left me weary and off-kilter. 

It started with the death of my father-in-law. He had just beat cancer but could not beat the treatment. It was a tremendous loss, but we were able to find a blessing in the fact he now has peace after so much chaos in this life.

Not long after that, my husband was offered a new job in a new field. It would be a huge change, especially since he has been in his current job for nearly 30 years. He accepted the position, and we thought we were moving into a new era of life. Until he had a change of heart and decided he just couldn’t walk away from his passion. We went from the excitement of new possibilities to the raw fear of the unknown to the peace of staying in an old job with a new look.

On the very day he decided to stay in his current position, an F3 tornado hit our community and devastated the Indian Lake region. The damage was colossal, but the outreach from our own community and those surrounding us has been amazing! I find so much inspiration in the community we have right now. The emotions of fear, shock, compassion, and inspiration rolled over us those first few days.

It’s been a roller coaster of emotions for sure. 

I have to believe the disciples had a similar range of emotions during Holy Week. The mystery of finding the donkey just as Jesus said and then marching into Jerusalem with their teacher as crowds of people praised Him with palms and Hosannas. The pride and joy had to be bubbling over for them in those moments. 

Today, we feel the ugly in this week.

That exhilaration was short-lived, however, as Jesus poured out his anger over the misuse of His Father’s temple. The disciples hadn’t seen Jesus show such raw anger before and had to wonder at it. 

The leaders of the Jewish people test Jesus over and over and over. While he remains calm, how do the disciples feel? Do they understand Jesus’ answers? Are they anxious as their leaders keep pushing Jesus? Or do they even think much about it at all?

But the rollercoaster really starts on Passover, as they share a meal. They eat, probably laugh, and worship together. Jesus lays out what will happen, but they still don’t get it. He uses new terminology and promises a new kingdom, but what does all that mean to them? 

After the meal and worship, He invites just James, Peter, and John to the garden to pray with Him. Perhaps it was too much wine, or maybe it was the hour, but either way, they couldn’t keep their eyes open when Jesus needed them to pray with Him. They only woke up when He let them know that it was time. 

Ah, but time for what? Men come to take away their teacher, their friend, with swords and anger. One of their very own is the betrayer of Jesus. It’s a lot to take in! 

In their fear, the disciples scatter and try not to be noticed. That’s hard to do, though. We know Peter denies knowing Jesus, just as Jesus predicted he would. 

The atrocity of that cross becomes a beautiful symbol of hope.

An unrecognizable Jesus carried His cross to the place where He would die. The Marys watched in horror as he took his last breath. The darkness came, the thunder roared, and the veil tore. Their hopes and dreams appeared to be gone. . . 

And then Sunday came. The tomb was empty, and there was a journey to Emmaus. Some believed Jesus had risen, but others had to see it with their own eyes. Eventually, word spread of this miracle, this wonder. Jesus was alive!

This week offers many emotions: joy, anger, sorrow, hopelessness, and celebration. In those hours after He was taken and then murdered, some disciples felt a strong sense of shame, guilt, fear, and possibly even abandonment.

But this week is like no other. This is the week that God chose to sacrifice His son, whom he loved dearly, to endure our sins. But as much as He loves His son, He audaciously loves us too. The death of Jesus shows us that more than anything else. 

Today, we feel the ugly in this week. The beating, the mocking, the pain, the separation. But the atrocity of that cross becomes a beautiful symbol of hope, of love, and of eternity for those of us who know Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus, for loving us more than our human minds can comprehend. Thank you for the opportunity to walk beside you in eternity! Hallelujah!

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