All of us, at one time or another, have found ourselves in a dark place. We, perhaps, were driven there by an overwhelming challenge, death of a loved one, despondency, or depression. It is a dark time when you cannot see how you will get out of a situation that is beyond your control or when powers above you are making decisions over which you have no control.
However, people of faith recognize that in such times, you do not turn away from God, but you turn to God. As the Christian world focuses on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, we rejoice in the fact that a dark place on a hill called Calvary, one Friday long ago, produced hope for all persons who are drawn to Him.
In 2022, thousands are faced with dark and dismal situations. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the circumstances of many upside down. Unemployment is high. Crime is escalating again. Domestic violence is on the rise. Utilities have been turned off in many homes. High food prices and diminishing paychecks are sources of great anxiety. Gas prices are the highest they have ever been, and inflation seems to be getting out of control.
In Isaiah 53:4 and 5, the prophet directs the children of Israel, also confronting challenging times, to the suffering Servant and what His suffering means. He reminds Israel as well as the people of 2022 and beyond that there still is meaning in the sacrifice that Jesus made on Calvary. Jesus was crucified to unburden us of all our issues.
The passage suggests that the suffering Servant is one who suffers with those who are in misery. That is, God will connect with those who are suffering to rescue them from their situation because He loves them. That is the good news of the gospel! God loves us, and, in our darkness, we can see Him. So, what is God saying to us as we reflect on the death, burial, and resurrection of heaven’s greatest hero?
Firstly, God has a way of using the unlikely to accomplish the unexpected. Isaiah says that the suffering Servant was struck down and afflicted. Yet, it was that afflicted and struck-down Servant who became the Saviour of the world. Christ’s suffering shows us what God can do through people. You and I may not expect much of some people, but God can raise them up to accomplish great things.
Secondly, Isaiah lets us know that whatever hang-ups you may wrestle with, Jesus experienced them so that you can rise above them. Whatever your issues, Jesus bore them all on Calvary so that you do not have to be chained to them.
In the text, Isaiah says, “surely he has bourne our infirmities.” This means that Jesus carried our burdens. The good news of Calvary is that when Jesus suffered, before and on the Cross, He removed from each one of us whatever was weighing us down. He persevered, underwent ridicule, endured the stripes to relieve us of our heavy loads. When Jesus suffered and died, He passed a lifeline from Himself to us. He went through it all to free us from our issues.
Finally, Isaiah lets us know that God can take pain and make it purposeful. God does not make pain. That is the task of Satan in this great controversy between good and evil. However, God says, “I will take the pain and make it purposeful.” So yes, we may go through dark places and hard times. However, when you know Jesus, He will show you that pain does not have the last word. Through it all, you will learn to depend on Him and on His word.
Therefore, on that Friday, when they drove the nails in His hands and feet, Christ suffered the pain for a purpose. What is the purpose?
Isaiah says, “But he was wounded (pain) for our transgressions (purpose),
He was bruised (pain) for our iniquities: (purpose) ….and with his stripes (pain) we are healed.”
This Friday, April 15, 2022, the eyes of the Christian world will turn to contemplate the sacrifice that Jesus made on Calvary for our sins. At the set of sun on that day, families across the Atlantic Caribbean Union will gather with their friends and neighbors in a special Centennial Family Worship. May we take the time in worship to pause and give thanks to God for, in the words of the songwriter, “Jesus paid it all, All to Him [we] owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”
With a membership of 33,130, ATCU, which is headquartered in Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas, comprises four fields, namely, the Cayman Islands Conference, the North Bahamas Conference, the South Bahamas Conference, and the Turks and Caicos Islands Conference. In addition, Northern Caribbean University, which is in Mandeville, Jamaica, is jointly owned and operated by ATCU and the Jamaica Union.