One of my dearest friends lost her husband in a hiking accident last summer. Now Clarissa is discovering “grace in grief” as a widow at age 41 with four kids. She has been chronicling her grief in powerful, beautifully written bursts of sorrow and hope on her blog; I am profoundly grateful that she allows us to share her journey.
Clarissa’s post on Ash Wednesday reminds me of one of the gifts of my Catholic faith. This young Protestant widow writes longingly of the crucified Jesus that we Catholics see at every turn – and perhaps, in a weird way, take for granted.
Since Rob died, I have longed to be near this Jesus condemned to die. I’ll be honest. It’s been hard to find him in church. We evangelicals avoid a bleeding, wounded Christ. We prefer Him standing beside the burial garments, tomb agape and empty. For most of us Protestants, Jesus hasn’t been on a cross since John Calvin took Him off in the Reformation. We prefer to think of ourselves as people of the resurrection, the cross a dramatic albeit silent silhouette in the back of the picture. We like a Jesus on the other side of suffering, His scarred hands more a mark of accomplishment than of pain.
Yet, Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life because first he died. Some may shudder at the image of Jesus on a crucifix. Since Rob’s death, I don’t do that anymore. Rather, in these days of my deep grief, I’ve found solace in Him hanging there. The world may struggle to understand my pain, but the crucified Jesus knows. Grief is suffering born of love. The cross reminds me He knew this too. Did e’er such love and sorrow meet? Jesus’ intimate acquaintance with my grief was more than intellectual. He felt it in His bones. When I survey the wondrous cross my sorrow finds acknowledgement and rest.
In this sacred season of Lent, may all of us Christian believers look to the suffering Savior, knowing he suffers alongside us.