Finding Meaning and Courage in Holy Week

Along with Christians around the world this time of year, I find myself thinking about Christ's crucifixion.  Struggling to understand His sacrifice for our sins is an important part of comprehending our human relationship with the Almighty.

We are made in God's image, so within each of us is something divine.  That which is divine is infinitely complex and eternal, yet we are bound by relatively simple, finite lives.  I think this struggle between what is temporary and what is immortal causes deep conflict within us all, and we feel that conflict daily as we struggle with good and evil, virtue and sin.  

It occurs to me that becoming spiritually or intellectually overwhelmed leads to a sense of meaninglessness and denial of what is true.  When humans comprehend how large and old the universe is and how small and short the life of any one man is by comparison, some deny any meaning in existence and deny man's connection to God.  They become atheists not because God has been disproven, but because their sense of being overwhelmed collapses their sense of any meaning in this life. 

But God is unknowable in a complete sense in this world precisely because His works are infinite and our physical lives are not.  Being overwhelmed by His design is natural, and to deny meaning because of His infinite creation is to learn the exact opposite from the lessons He provides.  In a world saturated with meaning for us to absorb, to deny meaning in this life because one is not the center of all things is not a repudiation of God's existence; it is a tantrum in response to clear proof that one is not, in fact, God.

The reason so many of the political left today embrace "ends justify the means" tactics such as disinformation and censorship is, I believe, because they have given up on Christ, virtue, and truth.  A society that is encouraged to think critically, value wisdom and virtue, and embrace redemption has nothing to fear from the bombardment of false narratives that surround us daily.  A society that cannot distinguish lies from truth and will not elevate virtue over sin, however, produces mindless beasts posing as men.  

There's a fuzzy line between making everything about yourself and failing to realize that your faults or problems are indistinguishable from the ones you see in others.  It's tough to operate as an individual without becoming so selfish that you ignore perspective.  Ego and empathy can be two sides of the same coin.  And for a lot of today's "woke warriors," the ones not intentionally embracing evil, I think they've become so lost in the meaninglessness of their lives that their capacity for empathy has been eaten away entirely by ego.

When I consider how miraculous it is just to be alive, I find it difficult to care about all the things we're told to care about in this world.  What is money or success compared to the incomprehensible notion that I exist here today, somehow, even though I'm not entirely sure why?  That head-scratcher makes everything else look like chump change.

Another part of Christ's crucifixion that grips me pertains to what His sacrifice teaches us about courage.  Everything leading up to His death is horrendous.  He is tortured, mocked, spat upon, and demeaned.  It is not enough for His tormentors to kill Him; they must humiliate Him 'til His last breath.  Yet Christ endures all of these insults with steadfast courage.  That is an important part of His lesson to us all.  In this life, we will sometimes be treated unfairly, disparagingly, and even cruelly.  We will endure unwarranted insults and be made to feel insignificant and weak.  Yet at no point during the trials we face do we lose control over whether we meet those challenges head-on with courage or timorously with the despair of the meek.  No amount of ridicule or punishment can steal a man's courage if he resolves to stand fast and stay true.  That choice, no matter how much we are made to suffer, belongs to us and us alone.  

This same lesson — to be courageous — is repeated over and over throughout the Bible.  Be not afraid.  Have faith.  Do not fear.  Find strength.  Again and again, we are told it is not enough just to believe; we must be courageous in the defense of our faith.  We must dig down within ourselves through even the worst moments of adversity and find the strength to overcome that which troubles and threatens us.  We are taught not to passively hide, but to stand tall, resist, and defend.  And then in the greatest demonstration of what courage ultimately is, the Son of God willingly endures tremendous agony, torment, and death in order to sacrifice Himself for mankind.

Christ's courage is that of a spiritual commander on the battlefield looking around at a ferocious and advancing enemy and screaming passionately to his troops: Hold the line.  Do not flee.  Find within yourself that which you have been preserving for this moment.  Tighten your muscles, clear your mind, steel yourself, and decide right now that this patch of earth will not be crossed, no matter the cost.

Time and again in this life, we are asked to "hold the line," and too often, we fail.  Too often, we close our eyes and pretend that the battle raging around us is not happening at all.  Too often we decide that the line is further back...and then a little further back...until we realize that we've been in retreat for quite some time.  Then there is that moment in life that jolts us awake, that revealed that there is nowhere left to withdraw, that urgent epiphany that we must fight for what is right and good now or not at all.  When you reach that point, have faith that you are not alone.  Take courage that many stand beside you.  Be certain that evil is worth fighting.  Take comfort that life has meaning.  Fear not.  Endure.  Stand fast.  Be brave.  Hold the line.

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