On the cross…

About a month back the Bible Study group I’m in spent a week looking at the Cross. It was timely that the study fell during Lent, because a few weeks later the entire country’s attention turned to the Cross. I know the Cross and Resurrection go hand and hand, but in the past I found myself spending more time in the Resurrection. It’s more comfortable to brush by the pain and suffering of the cross and focus on new life and resurrection joy. It was easy to do that personally because I was surrounded by that joy and was regularly witnessing tangible life change.

But that isn’t my experience here.

Yes, there is strong evidence of Resurrection power in Guatemala as a whole and in Vida Joven, but it’s settled into the backdrop of the immense pain and suffering of the people who live here. Almost 60% of the country lives on less than $2 / day. The continuous deterioration of family systems is mirrored in politicians who divorce simply as an election move. An entire region of the country was on lockdown for a few months due to the infiltration of drug lords. Individual’s stories are marked by abuse, brokenness, lack of options.

As I process what I’m seeing and experiencing, it’s drawing me back to the foot of the cross. While many shy away from pain, brokenness, suffering, loneliness, etc. Jesus steps into it. On the cross Jesus identifies himself with the poor, oppressed, and abused. This identification gives voice to the suffering I see; Jesus not only broke the chains of injustice but also provided a means for reconciliation. It’s not often we see both sides of that story.

And this is where we get to celebrate resurrection truth. In the past I erred (if I can use that word) on the side of the Resurrection and easily skipped through the anguish that preceded it. I’ve learned the error is just as great if I only sit in the suffering of the Cross -the cross and resurrection join together to provide another way. The cross and resurrection provide the framework through which I can make some sense of what I’m experiencing here.

I’ve been turning frequently to a quote by Henri Nouwen that speaks on the fusion of both pain and beauty on the Cross:

The cross invites us to see grace where there is pain; to see resurrection where there is death. The call to be grateful is a call to trust that every  moment can be claimed as the way of the cross that leads to New Life.


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