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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

That Good, Terrible Day

wooden cross on a hill
Author Biography

    Ian's directed CBN regional offices in Southern and East Africa for five years. He loves building teams, telling stories and working in authentic Kingdom partnerships. Ian lives near the sea in Cape Town, South Africa with his wife, three kids, and their brown poodle.

Related Topics
Ian Walton - Regional Director, Southern Africa

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

Good Friday. The terror and the intimacy of that blood-stained cross. Despair and hope shaken together in the defining moment of all time. Love and hate colliding. Joy and victory emerging amidst the suffering.

It is fitting to think again about suffering during the season we are in—Lent and Easter. It is also fitting for the times in which we find ourselves: fallen leaders, failed peace agreements, and tragic events and circumstances all around us. And the uncertainty of the cracking twenty-first-century landscape around us.

I don’t pretend to be able to truly relate to intense suffering, at least not at this point in my life. Even as I write that, I realize that this is likely to change at some point. Not because I’m pessimistic, or because I doubt God’s grace, favor, and protection over me and my family, but because I have come to realize that both joy and suffering have been packaged into this gift that we all hold—life on earth.

The psalmist gives us a beautiful picture of the spiritual secret that many of us have discovered—that there is a table to feast from in the midst of the valley, prepared specially by our Father. He sets it before us and invites us to eat, in faith, despite everything crumbling or crashing around us:

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; … You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. Psalm 23:4, 5

Last year I spent some time rediscovering the Beatitudes:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit. ... Blessed are those who mourn.” Matthew 5:3, 4

Blessed means spiritually joyful, divinely favored, deeply satisfied. What is our Lord trying to teach us with this sort of seemingly incongruous statement? In our youth, or as immature believers, we may feel that being blessed mostly looks like happiness and vacations and bonuses and miracles. Yet we call this special day “Good Friday.” It is the day we remember intense suffering and mourning—and yet it is also the day we remember His freedom-winning sacrifice and love for us. An intensely good day, a blessed day in the deepest sense of the word.

Peace in the midst of pain. Joy despite suffering. The choicest food in the darkest valley.

May you experience this Easter weekend as one in which you are able to truly feast at His table—illuminated by His gift of joy in the midst of whatever else is going on around and within you.

~

Scripture is quoted from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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