Dear friends in Christ,
I was inspired by the following article. I glanced at it, but then today was drawn to it and refreshed by it, not merely because it’s about a pastor who was living in Good Friday, but more for the times we are all enduring. It probably feels like Good Friday for most of us. We are all navigating new waters…..perhaps for some of us from one hour to the next. We are all facing new challenges with uncertainty. Yet we are not without HOPE. We place our hope on the truth of God’s Word, the certainty of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and that He is Lord and He is leading our lives! Yet we all face “Good Fridays” as the early disciples did. You might feel like this is a Good Friday season for you right now. I encourage you to draw new strength from our Savior through the testimony of this person’s “Good Friday” to new hope on Easter Sunday. Let’s all experience new life, strength, and power because HE LIVES!
COMING ALIVE ON EASTER
It was Good Friday. My house looked more like a set for Rescue 911 than a place of solemn preparation for the pinnacle of church year. Barbara, my wife of fifteen years, had gotten home at 3:00 a.m. after a long shift as a hospital nurse. Her heart started to pound more than a hundred beats a minute. Her pulse raced so fast we couldn’t measure it. We tried massage and relaxation exercises, but nothing helped. Desperate, I called 911. In the darkness, the emergency medical services unit arrived and rushed my normally healthy, forty-three-year-old wife to the hospital.
In the early morning hours, when many churches would sing “Go to Dark Gethsemane” and reflect on Christ’s agony on the cross, I was deep in my own darkness. I wept as I thought the unthinkable. Doctors finally controlled Barbara’s heart and admitted her to the intensive care cardiac unit. She had another episode on Saturday, which the doctor again brought under control.
I returned to our empty parsonage, facing an Easter I couldn’t cancel and didn’t have much heart for. I prayed, wept, and pleaded for God to give me strength to be both a good husband and a good pastor. The question pulled on me. How can I celebrate Easter when I’m living Good Friday? I prayed, cried, and paced the room. A seminary classmate called me at 11:30 pm. He asked me what I planned to preach on Easter Sunday. I responded by pouring out my heart to him. My friend gave me a couple of thoughts to hang on to. “First, Christ is Savior and rose from the grave,” he said. “Dave, you are not Christ, but you will find the energy to do Easter. Second, Barb knows you love her. She wants you to be the best pastor you can be on Easter morning.”
Though I barely got three hours of sleep the night before Easter, somehow Christ strengthened me the next day. I was able to proclaim the eternal message “He is Risen.” When the communion server gave me the bread and wine and said, “Take and eat; this the body and blood of Christ, broken and shed for you,” it struck me that Christ was present with us in all his majesty, just as he was with Barbara in the ICCU. After church I found Barbara in great shape at the hospital. We concluded that Barb’s working two jobs to pay off our bills wasn’t worth her life. Our priorities changed dramatically, thanks to the Easter weekend when we truly lived—not just observed—the journey to new life. *
Blessings in the power of The Risen Christ,
*David Coffin, (“Celebrating Easter When You’re Living Good Friday, Leadership 1999…Taken from 1001 Illustrations that connect p. 374)