All through yesterday, Good Friday this one word has been weighing heavily on my mind. I had a flashback of a night in August 1999, my cousin had arrived from Singapore to spend a couple of days in Colombo with us. She had accompanied her mother and an aunt who had both flown through Singapore to arrive in Colombo that night. They were there to attend a family wedding. We did make-shift arrangements to give her the children’s bedroom while my aunts were given the guest room. I remember this vividly. Me standing leaning against the card table/desk and she seated at the edge of the bed with her night clothes just pulled out of her bag lying on the lap. We were speaking. Pouring out one story in two versions to each other. One unifying theme. Betrayal. We were picking up from one another like Jazz musicians in the groove, wrenching out from deep within, this unending storyline of suspicion, shock, anger, cruelty, confrontation, humiliation, fear, shame. The story was ours and that of ours which couldn’t have been understood by others. That night we witnessed each other’s pain. The pain of betrayal by the ones we loved the most that we were yet to tell any other. Our wounds were raw. Our pain unbearable. Engulfed in an all-consuming fear of the ones we loved and trusted. Helpless and vulnerable we stood there at the lowest point of self-esteem, broken and defeated. We could see our romantic tale of freedom, of youth, love and success was just half a page away to a cruel end.
Then we heard the household waking up. 8 whole hours of a night in despair. Me standing and she at the edge of her bed with her PJs on her lap.
The Good Friday message of Pastor Brian Houston yesterday renewed and reassured the truth from The Word that spoke directly to me. From Isaiah 53:4 “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces, he was despised, and we held him in low esteem”.
This reinforced and awakened me to the knowledge, Jesus intimately understood betrayal. He was right there when it all happened. It happened to Him. He endured it way before me and my cousin; and as we live in Him and He is us, He endured it with me and my cousin that night and every day and night we were betrayed. Hebrews 5:8 - 9 says “Son, though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and once made perfect, became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him”. The freedom from years of guilt put on us, of bringing upon the devastation of separation, has been removed. We know that even Jesus, innocent as He was, was not spared of betrayal and abandonment. He was not spared of fear and shame. He learnt obedience from the suffering brought about by betrayal and abandonment.
This Good Friday brought home the truth that Jesus’ downward journey not only tells us what he is like; His downward journey was just like our own. No matter how successful we are, no matter how loving and giving we may be; no matter how talented and skilled we may be, we will all face disappointments. Yet, His downward journey is an empowering one. By example He empowered us to live-out humility as a weapon for freedom. It is like going way low in order to rise high above all. Philippians 2: 8, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross”. In His downward journey he kept looking beyond the pain, fear and shame to the bigger picture of victory for mankind and glory for God the Father.
20 years from that night in Colombo I know I stand stronger for my story. And the learning from it. So does my cousin. Because unbeknownst to us at that time, the victory had already been won. We are discovering it every day through our walk with our saviour Jesus Christ.