Friday, April 18, 2014

#Because of Him - Good Friday

Much as I love this picture, when I see it, I realize some are missing.
There are the unborn, but Clara, our oldest granddaughter, is also missing.
She died shortly after birth.
But because of Him, death has no sting and the grave has no victory.
Because of Him we can find peace and happiness, even joy, in sad times.
Because of Him we have Good Friday.

Calling the Friday before Easter “Good Friday” has always been a contradiction to me. Had I been invited to be on the holiday naming committee, I think I would have suggested “Sad Friday” or something like that.

Today, throughout the Christian world, is celebrated as the day Christ was crucified. Last night is remembered as the night He spent in the Garden of Gethsemane, and tomorrow the day He lay in the tomb before His incredible and glorious resurrection on Sunday.

Knowing that Christ suffered all things gives me great comfort and courage that He can guide me through all things. Though the Atonement is complex and difficult to fully comprehend, it also teaches simple lessons that help us. Here are a few:

Jesus Christ gave us an example of courage as faced his fears and troubles: 

One of our family’s favorite memories is a ride called “Splash Mountain” at Disneyland. One night, the ride re-opened from repairs unexpectedly. No one in the park knew it was open but Ty, Abe, and their two little cousins. They came and excitedly told those of us who were watching the parade and we all raced back to the ride. We rode it again and again and again . . . over a dozen times within an hour. As Thomas S. Monson points out, the ride centers on Brer Rabbit finding his laughing place–his happy place–and the song:

“Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay, 
My, oh my, what a wonderful day! 
Plenty of sunshine, headin’ my way, 
Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-ay!” 

plays over and over while you ride a boat through a myriad of animations representing happy times. Right before the ride ends, your boat plunges 50 feet into churning, troubling waters. There is one small sign before you go over the edge that warns: “You can’t run away from trouble; there’s no place that far!” and then PLOP! you plunge to the waters below.

That is a fact. We can’t run away from trouble. There is no place that far, for trouble is a part of this life and is even among our happy places. But, we can learn how to face our fears and troubles by watching how the Savior faced his. When Jesus Christ went into the Garden of Gethsemane, He knew the trouble that awaited Him. He knew it was time for Him to face the purpose for which He was sent to this Earth–to redeem all of us from Adam’s fall–which also happened in a Garden.

“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:36)

It was a daunting task to accomplish the will of the Father, but Christ did. We can follow His example and face our troubles and challenges with courage and strive to do our Heavenly Father’s will over our own.

Jesus Christ taught us the power of prayer: 

The night Christ went to Gethsemane, He told his disciples a couple of times to pray so that they could overcome temptation. He also said that when He was in agony, He prayed more earnestly.

We recognize prayer as a source of power, even my little nephew, Pal, understood that power when he was only three.  Still not talking clearly, one night at family prayer he said, “Bless Dad, bless esse, bless ache, bless in, bless arr, bless iee, bless om, bless spoons.” At this point his parents and five siblings began to laugh.  He looked up from his prayer embarrassed and said, “Oh, not bless spoons.” Then, worrying that he hadn’t gotten his point across, he went around the room again blessing each one in his family two more times (Dad, esse, ache, in, arr, iee, om). At the end of the prayer he unfolded his arms, smiled, and then spontaneously his dad, mom and each brother and sister (Jesse, Cache, Justin, Calder, and Maddie) leaned over and gave him a hug. All felt loved by three year old Pal because he prayed for them, and all loved him in return for his simple heartfelt prayer in their behalf. That night in the Garden the Savior prayed for us, in our behalf, and He prayed earnestly for us. We can comprehend His love more fully because we know of the love that comes by praying for each other and being prayed for by each other.

Our Father in Heaven sends us help: 

Jesus felt overwhelming agony when He took our pains and sins upon Him. We have all felt that horrid feeling of being alone. Heavenly Father sent Jesus help while He experienced that agony. In Luke 22:43 it says, “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.” Our Father in Heaven sends us help, too, even when we have done wrong. I’ve seen good friends, sisters, brothers, in-laws, parents, spouses, fellow church members, fellow community members, and neighbors love and nurture those who have done wrong and help them until they were strengthened. We understand what it feels like to be helped and comforted by those around us—gifts of strength from our Heavenly Father—and we can graciously accept their help as Christ did.

Christ asked us to remember Him: 

Before the Savior went to the Garden of Gethsemane, He had the Passover meal with his apostles. While there, Jesus broke the bread and prayed over it and then passed it to his apostles saying:

“This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19)

Jesus told his disciples He would be going away from them, but that He would send a Comforter to them while He was gone. That Comforter reminds us of Jesus.

We remember our birthdays, we remember when it’s time to eat, and we remember when it is pay day . . . surely we can remember Jesus. I’m grateful He remembered me that night in the Garden when life was tough and busy for Him, and I've found remembering Him makes me happier and more successful.

Though there is still much to comprehend about the Atonement, what I have learned allows me to love the Savior and recognize Him as the “Way, the Truth and the Life.” I often envision our journey here on earth as if we’re all climbing a very steep mountain. We’ve passed the draws, the streams, the meadows and trees below, and now we’re on the steep part. The fall could be fatal, it is definitely scary. The cliffs are sharp and the path is narrow. But there He is–Our leader, the One in Front, the Savior. He calls encouragement to us as we climb. He says, “It’s ok . . . you can do it. Just follow me. Don’t look down—look up, look to me—and you can make it. Walk in my footsteps and you won’t fall.” And then, He leads the way and He doesn’t take huge steps that I can’t reach, and He doesn’t take little steps, He takes perfect steps—one right in front of the other so that I can follow. He wants us to successfully make the climb by following His footsteps, and then enjoy the view from the top with Him.

You know, I think “Good Friday” is a better name than my suggestion after all. Though initially so very painful, I’m grateful Jesus remembered us on that sad, sad day and made “good” for all mankind. 

Happy Good Friday everyone.


Michelle said...

Thank you for this. This is incredible. So well-written. Plus it put my mind in a place where I can truly ponder on the Atonement today and its significance for me and my family. Thank you a hundred times over.

melanie said...

I agree with Michelle. This is beautifully written and shares a powerful message. Thank you. I want everyone I know to read it. Because of Him, we are friends and I am grateful. Happy Easter, Jane.

Lucy said...

Happy Good Friday, Jane. I look up to you so much.