The Black Moment

Every good story has an emotional black moment where all seems lost. The hero laments in the ashes of his shattered dreams. Betrayal, abandonment, you-fill-in-the-blank, all prevent the desired happily-ever-after. There is no solution in sight. The villain is bigger, stronger, and more powerful than first thought. Evil celebrates certain victory—or so it seems.

This pivotal point in the story resonates with readers because good fiction is patterned after real-life. All our lives lead toward a black moment, a moment when we sit at the crossroads and know our choices, our lifestyle, our sin have separated us from God and there is nothing that we can do to recover and make it right. In that moment we fully recognize the cost of our sin—inevitable death. The black moment may be an exciting crisis point in a novel, but in real life it brings horrifying, soul-crushing, devastation.

In my black moment, the reality of my wretchedness fell heavy over me and I was incapable of taking it away. The weight of my sin devastated my lost soul. The enemy celebrated, whispering lies into my ear, “I have won. There is no hope.”

Us fiction-junkies know better than to close the book at the black-moment. We keep reading, clinging to the hope that somehow good is victorious. We don’t know how, we don’t know when, but we fervently flip the pages desperate to learn how good triumphs.

Good fiction is patterned after reality. In my darkness I longed for that last-minute rescue from my own wretched sin. Deep down, I wanted a hero to swoop in and save the day. I couldn’t fathom how it was possible, yet that hope burned inside refusing to die. In my darkness, God turned the page and I discovered that nothing—and I mean nothing—can derail God’s plans for His children.

Way back in history, a black moment came upon Egypt. The Israelites were demanding their release. Pharaoh refused. Judgement was coming. All the first-born sons were to die.

Years later, on a hill named Golgotha, darkness fell over the disciples. Everything they had believed in breathed His last on the cross. Evil stole Hope. The villain was bigger, stronger, and more powerful than first thought. With no answer in sight, the disciples lamented in the ashes of their shattered dreams. They had lost everything. This horrifying soul-crushing crossroads stole their happily-eve-after—or so it seemed.

If we stop reading here, both historical accounts end tragic. But God turns the page and reveals that nothing—and I mean nothing—can derail His plans for His children.

In Egypt, the people of God were instructed to sacrifice a perfect lamb and then take the blood from that lamb and spread it over their doorposts, marking the inhabitants of their homes as belonging to God. The Spirit of God would “passover” that home and allow the child to live.

Three days after Golgotha, Christ is risen from the dead proving that death has no hold on Him, or on all who believe in His name. That reality gives hope to every black moment. He will rescue all who call on His name. He will reveal the way of escape.

As a black-moment judgement comes to my wretched soul, I can, by God’s mercy, be saved by a passover of sorts. God has provided the perfect lamb, His Son—the Lamb of God. The blood of Christ is spilled once and for all and washes clean those who come to Him in repentance and faith. Christ’s blood marks me as His own when I surrender to God. The blood of Christ protects my soul from deserving judgement.

In that surrender I find, like Israelites and the disciples found, that in the midst of dark and desperate days, Hope is not dead. Whether it has been dark for 3 hours, 3 days, 3 years, or 3 decades, resurrection Sunday gives hope a name – His name is Jesus.

If you’re in a black moment, at a cross-roads, and all seems lost, don’t stop here. Evil doesn’t have to win. The page has been turned and you can surrender to Hope. His name is Jesus.

What is so good about Good Friday?

Before we know it Easter weekend will be here. Families will gather. Meals shared. Eggs hidden and found. Our family celebrates with a mixture of activities. Our kids search the basement for candy eggs, we share a special family meal, and use the our very special tablecloth.

We attend a church service on Good Friday. It is somber, sad, and reverent. It’s when we focus on the ultimate act of sacrifice. Christ’s death. Nailed to a cross because he claimed to be God. Not a god, THE GOD.

As a mother, my mind drifts to Mary and a sermon I heard long ago about this very moment in her life. This moment of pain, watching her first-born son stretch his arms out accepting the nails.

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For nine hours Jesus hung until he breathed his last.

Mary is silent. She does not claim that Jesus was the result of a one-night stand or the product of a premature frolic with Joseph. She does not stand at the foot of his cross and deny his claim to be the Son of God because she knew.

Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Son of God.

And now he was dead.

I can’t help but wonder what Jesus’ friends thought as all this played out. Did they see walls when Jesus finally breathed his last? Did they have long-term plans for Jesus’ political future only to have them shattered? Did they truly understand his mission on earth? If this is Good Friday, what is so good about it?

When the apostles feared swords, Jesus offered healing (Luke 22:49-51). When they saw failure, Jesus saw fulfillment (Luke 24:13-35). When they saw death and destruction, the God of hope stepped in and changed everything.

Why is Good Friday good? Because Jesus’ death is the beginning of the new covenant between God and his people. The covenant we are under today. The covenant that God will honor because He always keeps His word.

That, my dear friends, is good.

 

*Artwork by Jonathan Weeks