Gratitude Day 610
Luke 22:4 – He secretly went to the religious hierarchy and the captains of the temple guards to discuss with them how he could betray Jesus and turn him over to their hands.
There are so many interesting people who are a part of Jesus’ last days. Maybe one of the most confusing is the disciple, Judas.
Part of Jesus’ inner circle, Judas was one of the 12. For three years, he ventured around the Sea of Galilee and traveled to Jerusalem with Jesus and the rest of the gang sharing the message that Jesus was so passionate about. It’s believed that Judas was the treasurer for the group. He took care of their expenses and carried the money around. Remember – no debit card, no credit card, not even a checkbook. Just real coins wrapped in a piece of cloth.
Somewhere along the line, Judas lost faith in Jesus. Or maybe he lost faith in himself and his role as part of Jesus’ inner squad. There are lots of different theories about what happened. I’m not sure we can ever really know the whole story and we must be OK with this.
What we do know is this: somewhere along the line, Judas decided to stop following Jesus and side with the religious leaders. Why? I don’t know. Did he feel that continuing to follow Jesus would ruin his reputation and future? Maybe he no longer supports the basic ideas that Jesus promoted. Or maybe he lost the passion. I’m not really sure. Honestly, I’m just guessing here.
What I see is a conflicted guy who is making difficult decisions. Ones that will affect him forever. Ones that will impact Judas and those around him.
It is so difficult to imagine one of Jesus’ inner circle abandoning him in the 11th hour. But it happens. Before we become too critical of Judas, maybe we should refresh our memories about the times we struggled in keeping our faith in Jesus. God. And all the rest.
It is common for followers of Christ to have a crisis of faith. These awful times happen for a variety of reasons: loss of a loved one, a tragic event, a crisis that feels unbearable, an incurable disease, a natural disaster, and the list goes on and on and on. I think it is impossible for us to understand someone’s faith crisis because we all react differently to various situations. Sometimes, it’s the repeated feeling of abandonment that gets us. Sometimes, it’s the sheer overwhelming nature of what’s going on. Sometimes, we just want God to step in and stop something … and it doesn’t happen.
Recently, I finished reading the horrific book, Night, by Elie Wiesel. Elie was a tween during World War II. His Jewish family lived in a Jewish ghetto for awhile before being sent to a concentration camp. Elie and his father were separated from their female family members but felt fortunate the two of them were able to be together. With other Jewish men, they were moved from various concentration camps. They watched person after person killed, beaten, and hanged. As the Jews watched their friends get hanged, someone asked, “Where is God?” Another answered, “He is hanging here on these gallows.”
Before the concentration camp, Elie studied with the Jewish rabbis and teachers and anticipated becoming one himself. As he spent more time in the concentration camp and witnessed thousands being sent to the crematorium, his faith was beyond tested. One year when Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement, rolled around, the Jewish men debated whether they should fast as was their tradition. It seemed silly for them to fast when they basically were fasting year around. Elie writes, “There was no longer any reason why I should fast. I no longer accepted God’s silence.”
As the resistance got closer to the camp where they are, thousands of Jews are sent on a death hike to another camp. They didn’t eat for days and were forced to run through terrible cold and snow. Somehow, Elie and his father made it to the camp. When they finally arrived at their destination, Elie’s father came down with dysentery. Elie and his father debated whether Elie should eat the meager rations designated for his father so he could try and keep his strength. Elie writes, “I felt that I was not arguing with him, but with death itself, with the death that he had already chosen.”
Elie went to sleep one night, knowing his father was terribly ill. When he awoke the next morning, a different man was sleeping on the cot where his father had been. Elie was only 15-years-old.
Few of us can fully related to Elie’s story. Or Jesus’ story. Or even Judas’ story. We have our own story of when we feel our faith has been tested to the limits. In those moments, we could choose death.
Unfortunately, Judas, like Elie’s father, chose death. Maybe he couldn’t ever quite forgive himself for the choices he made. Maybe he felt everyone would abandon him. Maybe he had no hope that Jesus would come back to life, as he had promised the disciples that he would.
When our faith is tested, it may feel like we are completely alone with no place to turn. There’s a reason why people wear black when in mourning. Because this is how they feel. It’s natural to wonder if there will ever be a day where hope can be present again.
Today, drape a black cloth over someplace where you will see it. Let me assure you: it’s OK for us to have moments and days and periods of feeling that maybe God has left us. This is part of our journey. What I pray is that we will see that we aren’t alone. As alone as Jesus must have felt, he was also aware that he wasn’t really alone. His father was with him. This gave him hope to face death in the face and know death would not have the last word.
I pray we can believe this as well.
For faith when God is silent, I am grateful.
Holy God – when we take Holy Week seriously, then we must accept the stories that are difficult and challenging and don’t really make sense. Often, we say that You have abandoned us … when You haven’t. You’ve been right beside us and maybe we didn’t see You. May we feel You today. Amen.
Stop by diannedeatonvielhuber on Instagram today for a few more thoughts about today’s Lenten topic.
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