Read the previous article in this series here.
Station XIV: Jesus is Laid into the Grave
Jesus is buried. More specifically, the evidence of the evil acts of authority—Pilate, the religious leaders, and everyone involved in the violence that resulted in Jesus being killed—is hidden as Jesus is placed in a dark tomb. The writer of the book of John notes, “For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed” (John 3:20). Just as those who do evil try to hide themselves, so too they cover up their deeds so those are not discovered. The killing of Jesus is one such evil deed.
With regard to my foster care experience, I withdrew and hid, as best I could, to work on burying my past in exchange for a better future. Thirty years, however, is a long time to be buried. As God ushered bits and pieces of my life out of the darkness and into the light, I saw transformation. Guided by the clarity of God’s light toward healing and reconciliation, I know what it is to journey a long and dark road of suffering and recovery. Recently my sense was that I was being called to return to the world of foster care, this time voluntarily. My sense was that it was time that I became the stranger that helps foster and former foster youth make faster and more effective transitions to successful adulthoods than I did. Until recently, I wasn’t confident that I was sufficiently healed or equipped to help others as they worked through the broad spectrums of suffering and recovery. Now I feel God has healed me, at least well enough to help those with similar stories out of their respective graves.
Station XV: Jesus is Raised from Death
The writer of the book of John notes, “But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God” (John 3:21). What will be God’s response to the evil of killing this most faithful messenger of the kingdom? How might God show the world that evil must and will be exposed? By bringing it to light? How might God provide a peaceful means of healing for those suffering from evil? By showing that our Creator does not participate in evil, but transformatively heals by bringing the evil to light.
“So the other disciples told [Thomas], ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe. … Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe’” (John 20: 25-27). Jesus was raised from death and returned to life with his wounds intact. Even assuming that one rejects the testimony of the many witnesses and cannot accept that Jesus was raised from the dead, consider the implication of the witness’s testimony that Jesus was raised with the evidence of his wounds. Further consider the implication of the witness’s testimony that Jesus’ wounds were healed.
From my foster care experience and its aftermath were born within me a soul-scorched apathy and universal loathing. The very opposite of Jesus, my wounds weren’t readily visible to anyone and they were not healed. For decades I struggled to escape my foster care tomb until I finally, fully, and entirely surrendered to God for the first time. Not until then did I experience meaningful healing. Although I may carry the scars of my wounds, and can both spot those wounds in others and understand their pain, my wounds are healed. God, who is lovingly reliable and consistent, does indeed resurrect from death. I have witnessed this for myself and my family. By healing and resurrecting Jesus, God validated Jesus’ ministry over the works of evil. By healing and restoring me and my family, God has given me evidence that He heals and does not destroy.
There are two theological questions from my experience that I have explored in great depth and resolved, at least for myself. First, “Is suffering the direct will of God or the result of humans acting in the absence of God?” I am convinced that suffering is entirely the result of human activity in the absence of God. In other words, in the absence of righteousness evil prevails and suffering results. Second, “Are there any benefits to suffering?” I am convinced that God does not desire suffering, but the hidden gift is that between those who have suffered there is a bridge by which each can intimately connect with the other for the benefit of both.
//End of series.