In the shelter of the Most High

According to media reports, 15% are finding the nation’s lockdown extremely difficult.  For those isolated in a confined space – whether alone or jam-packed with family – and with no garden, that’s hardly to be wondered at.  But one suspects that everyone, even those with large houses and gardens, are finding the time challenging, separated as we are from loved ones and friends, and faced with the problem of how to fill the day.  Easy to feel abandoned.

On the day following Christ’s death on the Cross, the disciples felt abandoned – wracked with grief not only for the loss of their master, teacher and friend, but staring desolate at the ashes of their dreams.  He had gone and, with His loss, all their hopes had died. For those who had trusted and given up everything to follow Him, this must have been particularly hard.  He’d been wrong.  They’d been wrong.  So what now?   There was nothing left.

And for Jesus too, of course, there had been anguish.  In Gethsemane, confronted by the imminent betrayal of those who claimed to love Him, we know He was so distraught that His sweat was like blood.  Yet even knowing the horror of what was to come, He chose obedience to God.  And then on the cross, having endured torture and flogging, He faced the ultimate abandonment of God Himself.  For one who had never before been separated from His father, we cannot even begin to imagine the horror of loneliness and desolation that must have entailed.  For that moment Jesus truly was forsaken, in ways that we will never be.  He died totally alone.

But there was a greater truth.  Although Jesus physically left the disciples, He had not for one moment abandoned them.  Rather He was fighting on their behalf, paying the ultimate price in order to defeat Satan and win their salvation – and we know from the Bible that this was the only way that could be done.  It was for this reason indeed that Jesus had been born.  So for a little while, to all appearances, the Lord was separated from the disciples and they were left desolate, as they faced a future without the one they loved, and without hope.  But this was the only way they could receive the gift of life – that God had planned and worked for from the start.

Many of us will perhaps at some time have known similar feelings of separation and loneliness – and perhaps some are experiencing them now.  But for the disciples that wasn’t the end of the story, and it’s the same for us too.

Jesus knew the anguish – the horror – of separation as He faced Satan alone, but even then the Father had not abandoned Him.  This side of eternity, we can never fully understand what actually happened, but we do know that it was costly and that Jesus  – by His own death – broke the power of death for all mankind, as evidenced three days later by his rising from the dead.

The times we are in now will pass, and the light will come again.  But, for this present moment, let us remember that God is here and, though we cannot see it, He is fighting on our behalf.  To perhaps give us something far greater than we had before.

God is with us in the difficult and desolate times, just as much as in the good  – perhaps even more so.  Yes, in recent years the world has gone astray and there needs to be repentance – but the bottom line is, God brings life out of death.  So this Eastertime, let’s be encouraged, and let’s endure with fortitude, certain that, whatever happens, if we are faithful, He will be with us, and will bring us through.  On Easter Sunday, as they realised what had happened, the disciples knew a joy they could never possibly have imagined before Jesus’ death on the cross. This truth was infinitely better than all their dreams.  By the Lord’s grace, may the same be true for us.

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