But of course, with age comes wisdom, and one begins to see how suffering can enlighten the pain of a moment and reveal its true value and goodness. Yes, goodness in suffering. Jesus may not have been very comfortable, but as a blogger-friend related, the nails didn't keep Him on that cross--Love did. He suffered, yes, but He suffered for a reason. For us. And that is truly Goodness.
I find myself thinking lately about suffering and waiting and not-knowing. Especially as concerns the adoption process, of course. This Good Friday we spent many happy hours with the Babe before heading back into town for church. She is so comfortable with us now, so relaxed when we're holding her. I have experienced it with other babies, of course, but it's so different with This Little Girl, She Who Might Be Ours Someday. Hopefully soon.
It's hard waiting, not knowing one way or another how things will turn out. Not knowing if we'll ever be able to introduce her to our friends or watch her sleeping next to us. We are so in Love with her.. can't we show the world already? It's hard to leave at the end of every visit. It's hard to say goodbye again and again and again, hoping, as we go, to never have to say it anymore, someday.
Good Friday is good. But it is easy for us to understand its goodness, from our perspective in time, because we know about Easter Sunday. We know how it will end, how things resolve, and how God works in the world for our salvation. "What must it have been like for the apostles, who may not have understood the hope Jesus offered them before He died?" I think to myself in the pew.
And then I remember Mary. Mary who "treasured all these things in her heart" (Lk 2:19) and is the consistent silent figure through all Jesus' ministry. I think of Mary's silent hope. Her persistent, convicted hope in the Promise of the Lord. "The promise He made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever." (Lk 1:55)
There is sorrow in her eyes as she holds her Son. But I believe there is also hope. Perhaps she didn't foresee how God's promise would be fulfilled, but she believed in it, nonetheless sternly as Jesus lay there in her arms.
image from Angelo Rusciano
She spoke to me once, as I prayed. She was walking on the way to Egypt with her husband and newborn son, running from death. She stopped and looked at me and put her hand on my shoulder. There was love and understanding in her eyes:
"I know what it is you long for. Rejoice, favored Daughter--God has not forgotten you."
And I believe her. I cling to that hope and belief, as I bear my own (small) cross on the way. I pray I can someday look back on our waiting and suffering and see how truly Good it is.
Grant it, Oh Lord.