Good Friday

Today is Good Friday and people are writing poetic things about the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. They are telling me that his death “paid for our sins.” They are testifying that Jesus suffered because we suffer, and that his pain helps us through our own.

This line of thinking is very helpful for many people. But not for me

Today is Good Friday and I am waiting while sweet baby George goes through a five hour six hour surgery. I am waiting, and hoping that when he wakes up he will, for the first time, be able to eat; be able to breathe without pain; be able to live without tubes down his nose and his throat. I am waiting knowing that even if this is true — and I believe it will be true — that he will still be in pain. This little struggling body will be in pain, and so will his parents with their aching, bruised hearts.

Knowing Jesus suffered does not help me understand George’s suffering. His hours on the cross do not help me come to terms with my own ten-year illness. The brutal death of one man does not make me feel any hope about the deaths of many. His suffering does not make me feel less alone.

I weep for him at Tenebrae, I do. I know loneliness. I know pain. And what mother doesn’t connect with Mary’s loss? But I don’t like it when this story, when his story is used to as device to inflict guilt, to induce shame. And I don’t like it when someone I love is suffering and a well-meaning soul says “Well, Jesus understands because he suffered too on the cross.”

Jesus’s suffering may not help me, but blessing George does. Wrapping him up in love and affection before sending him into the cold bright lights of the surgery, into his doctors’ careful, practiced hands–that helps. Blessing his head with a finger tip of oil for sweet, sweet dreams. Blessing his feet that they may stay tethered to this Earth, here, with us. Blessing his trachea to heal and his esophogus to function. Blessing his immune system to rally. Blessing his heart to beat steady and his pulse to rest easy. Blessing his hands, those tiny curled hands, that he might feel his mother and father’s finger tucked into his palm all through the long, scary day.

This is my Good Friday. And the cross, it is not helping me.

But hope is holding my hand.


Update: I am happy to report the George is out of surgery and in recovery. His grandmother sent the blessing I wrote for him all around the world via Facebook, and a whole community of people spoke it over him. I feel grateful for his safety, and for the opportunity to minister in and with a community, as is my calling. May your Friday be Good as well. Much Warmth, Rachelle


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Also: Kathy Escobar is the coolest pastor I know, and she writes about the cross here.

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Kimberley McGill April 6, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Beatiful post. My heart was beating in rhythm with your words as I read. Yes to everything you said.

And so very happy to hear George is doing well after surgery.

Rachelle April 7, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Thank you Kimberly. It’s been a rough week, and my kids got colds — so I couldn’t actually go to the hospital to bless George. I was so sad, both to not see George and his family, and to not have the chance to minister in this way (it’s rare that this kind of thing comes up now that I’m not in an official pastoral role.) Your kind words helped soften the blow.

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