PRACTICING COURAGE IN THE WILDERNESS
Based on Living Compass “Practicing Courage with all your heart, soul, strength and mind”
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”
Many people choose not to go to church on Good Friday. In fact someone once commented that more people will be in church on Mother’s Day than Good Friday. We North Americans have a tendency to avoid and deny pain. We focus on positive thinking, hard work, and “living your best life now.” We prefer holidays that offer us fun, nostalgia, heroism, gift giving, and feasting. Good Friday offers none of those things.
Human beings are experts at avoiding pain. In her second book, Brené Brown writes: “Our first response to pain – ours or someone else’s – is to self-protect.” We will do just about anything to push away or circumvent feelings – ours or someone else’s – of pain, suffering and shame. We do many foolish and harmful things to dodge it, numb it, or toss it away, like a hot potato, to someone else.
But what if we could sit with those painful feelings for a while, instead of rejecting them? On Good Friday we witness God entering pain, deeply and completely in the person of Jesus. God willingly allowed Godself to be betrayed, abandoned, beaten, condemned, and crucified to share in – to sit with – the pain of human life alongside us.
On Good Friday, we are invited to have the courage to witness and behold, to sit with Christ’s pain and death, as Christ does with ours. In doing so, we are not only witnessing God’s pain and sacrifice, but the suffering and pain of all of God’s children and creatures, held and lifted up by Jesus on the cross. God invites us to have courage not to self-protect in the face of pain, but to witness, to sit with, and to behold Jesus. Today we see courage in the form of arms outstretched upon the cross. It is not easy to watch and listen. Today will take courage. In Jesus’ courage and vulnerability, can we find courage we will need?