I know that you hold me in your hands
and sustain me
and preserve me
through all things,
but at the moment I hurt.
I am called to be constituted by you first,
and by people second.
I am called to love you with all my
and to love my neighbour as myself.
Yet so often the second is what I struggle with. Rather than wrestling to love you, I try to love others and to love myself in proportion to the love that others give me.
My own self-worth and value is probably what is lacking,
and when I love myself I feel as though I rarely do so in a healthy manner.
It’s a narcissism that prevails,
not a godly acceptance of myself
in the face and light
of the Cross
and empty tomb.
So I suppose my response has to be to look outwards at my Lord and Saviour, rather than inwards at my own flaws and inner darkness; even if that inner darkness confirms for me my own sinfulness and rejects any gnostic tendency in my own beliefs.
Yet when I look from my pain to you,
I struggle to see you at the right hand of the Father,
I struggle to see you crowned with glory
and as the genuine Lord of all.
Instead, I look up from my pain that reverberates throughout all of who I am and have been for the last 5 years and I see your brown eyes looking at me, tears swelling at the corner of your eyes as you grimace and flex your muscles to hold yourself up. Your lips caked in drying blood, parting in furtive pants to snatch what air you can down into your screaming hot lungs. I look up from my pain that lasts but a moment and into your eyes and see a pain that lasts eternally; a pain that somehow wrests you from the Father and perceiving the Spirit coursing within you.
For me and my pain, you experienced a pain more than I can comprehend and those eyes that transfix mine fade. The face upon which I gaze contorts one last time as you sigh a lingering, painful breath.
You hang stilly,
My pain fades into insignificance
and the moment freezes.
Those doe brown eyes of a lamb glaze over as blood stained hair clings to your cheeks
and I feel empty.
Bereft of pain,
bereft of sorrow,
gazing with unseeing eyes
upon the Lord of all creation
dead before me.
I know that my pain
and my sin
and my shame
will be conquered,
on that Cross.
Yet I have hurt,
and I will hurt again.
And I hate it, it’s so insignificant in the face of your pain, Lord, the pain that you bore for all people including me,
yet it still hurts.
More than this, I don’t know if I hurt for the reasons I tell myself that I hurt.
I tell myself that I hurt
because I’m a failure,
because I’m unlovable,
because I deserve it.
Yet you tell me that
you love me,
that you love me,
and that you love me.
To every cry that escapes my sinful lips,
the response is only love,
and again more love.
This love should feel sweet, it should be bliss, it should be heaven to me shouldn’t it? Yet when I am faced with your love it feels like a holy fire is burning across all of who I am in a way that underscores and emphasises my pain. Where my pain and my hurts extend to all my flesh, and to my mind and memories and hopes. Your love seems to burn me in all those places and yet in places of my soul that I didn’t even know were there.
I know that the response is to repent of my sins and to believe. To repent, to turn away from my sin. Yet whilst I objectively commit less ethical sins than I used to, I still feel as though I’m just as sinful as before. The sinfulness I feel now is less visible, less tangible. It feels almost as though I myself am the problem.
Maybe that’s true.
Maybe when people reject me,
it hurts because I’m looking for reasons
to reject your love.
Why would I reject your love?!
Everything within my mind screams out
that to reject your love is heresy,
that it’s appalling.
And it is.
However, I think it’s because despite my theological explanations and theories,
the truth of grace is something that will haunt me forever.
It’s a joy,
but not my joy;
it’s a mercy,
but not my mercy;
it’s a love,
but not my love.
You are entirely ‘other’, I could say.
But the truth is that you’re the hero
saving the ones who shouldn’t be saved.
You’re the God of life and prosperity that favours
and the poor.
If my aim in this writing,
in this prayer,
is to justify to myself why you love me,
I think I shall be ultimately unsuccessful.
All I can do is look at you, to gaze into your brown eyes filled with pain that are somehow my own eyes,
my own pain,
and be thankful.
Today feels like it’s the latest in a life of rejections from a World that does all it can to pull me away from your holy, fiery love.
Death stands guard over the cold dark tomb,
and life seems like an impossible lie.
The song of despair swells around me,
the melancholy melody beautifully ugly
in this realm of shadows.
Oh Lord! Open these deaf ears to hear the grinding crunch of the stone being rolled away! Oh Lord! Open these blind eyes to see the dawn of your eternal day!
Let me see myself as you see me – a sinner, broken and hurting; your child, loved and redeemed.
This Good Friday Prayer is a part of a collection of Samuel’s poetry called Glimpses.
As a collection, it presents poems of a variety of styles seeking to find the glimmers of the divine in the moments which make up the stories of our lives.
If you are interested in finding out more about Glimpses, and links as to where you can purchase a copy in either the USA or the United Kingdom, click the button below.