At thirty-eight, his wife of almost fifteen years told him she wanted to be with someone else. “Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever loved you,” she said flatly after their three boys were in bed. And he wept.
“My God. My God. I am unmoored. I’m alone and afraid. What will become of me now?”
At age eleven, both her parents died in a car crash. She would grow up in the homes of kind relatives, put herself through college, pursue her calling, and be the faithful friend everyone is grateful to have. She would never marry, choosing instead to devote herself entirely to God.
Last month her best friend of forty years; the one she talked to every day, died, leaving her utterly alone and careening into the dreadful dark. And she wept.
“My God. My God. I have no one left. I am alone and suddenly more afraid than I ever have been. What will become of me now?”
At fifty-two, he wondered what would happen when he was exposed for the fraud he really was. Would he be welcome home when it all came out? Would her eyes still light up when he walked in the room? Was he still worthy of his adult children’s respect and friendship?
Or would he be left – shamefully; deservedly – utterly alone? And he wept before pulling the trigger to end his life.
“My God. My God. I am unacceptable to this world, to my family, and even to you. I am all alone in my trouble and too afraid to see what will become of me now,”
What do we say in the face of so much soul suffering? How do we shine a beacon of hope into the darkness that threatens to shipwreck and swallow lives whole?
At thirty-three, on the night he was betrayed, Jesus of Nazareth, in great distress, wept in an olive-treed garden above Jerusalem. “My Father. I am alone and afraid. If it’s your will, please, let this cup pass from me.”
But God’s will was that this Adam; the better Adam; his own son, would crush the head of Death and set his people free.
And so the Father did not send angels down to the rescue, nor did Jesus summon them, for surely they would have come! No, unlike father Abraham and his promised Isaac, Yahweh would not provide a substitute ram in the thicket so that an only beloved son might be spared.
For God’s will was that his own flesh and blood would be the rescue lamb in thorns. Jesus would lay himself down on the altar so God’s sons and daughters from every tribe and tongue might be unbound, set free, and live.
And so the obedient son of God would carry the wood for the sacrifice on his own back. He would allow himself to be bound and secured firmly to the altar. He would trust his father in everything to the very end.
And this time Yahweh would not intervene. He would not call out with a loud voice from heaven to stop the final hammer blows. And the beloved son would be pierced and broken, his blood spilling over the altar and atoning for the sins of the whole world.
And the Father wept as the thick veil of dread and shame consumed – swallowed up whole – his only beloved son. “This is my child in whom I am well pleased.”
And the Son wept to hear only silence in the noisy dark. “My God. My God. Why have you forsaken me?”
And the angels wept as they watched and waited. What love is this?
And the gates of hell did not prevail – the gates of hell will never prevail! – against the unshakable and unfathomable power of this sacrificial love. “It is finished. Into your hands, my Father, I commit my spirit.”
I know that some of you are in real distress today. You feel unmoored, alone, and afraid. Some of your lives have been shipwrecked and you are careening in the dark. All around you, everything lies broken; splintered; in shards. What is to become of you now?
Child of God, please know this: You are anchored securely to God because of Jesus. You will not be lost or overcome. The darkness won’t consume you, for Jesus has kicked in the fangs of fear and death and is bringing you safely home to God.
Sons and daughters of God: The love that flows between the Father and the Son – the Spirit they willingly share with each other – has been placed squarely in each of us!
And this spirit we share with Christ and each other is more alive, more powerful and true, than anything dark or dreadful we will encounter in this world.
A spirit of life.
A spirit of light and truth.
A spirit of forgiveness and gentleness.
A spirit of love.
The gates of hell may rattle and rage and threaten. The roar of silence as you wait for a word may be deafening. The loneliness you wear may press down as heavy as a shroud. This cup might not pass from you, as much as you pray. But you are not alone.
What will become of you now, sons and daughters of God?
You are becoming who you were always meant to be: holy, trusting, willing, gentle, truthful, humble, and obedient. You are becoming a beacon of hope – God’s own light, love, and comfort – that shines into the darkness for those who are shipwrecked, alone, and afraid.
You are becoming more and more like Jesus, the one who has always loved you, will never leave you, and is bringing you home safely and securely to God.
Shalom to you in your becoming.