The cross presents a bleak and painful picture. It is tempting to look away in despair in the face of this darkness. But, when I continue to behold the pain, I find light begins to break through.

When I stand by the cross, I see that I do not stand alone. Love is always there. I may not be able to perceive the presence of love in the darkness of my pain; but I am never alone. When Jesus cried out from the cross,

‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46),

he was abandoning the last human illusion.

The despair Jesus experienced on the cross was real and as deep and total as his anguished cry indicates. But the depths of loss in which Jesus travelled was short-lived. His anguish was quickly followed by triumphant release as he commended himself into the hands of the God by whom he felt abandoned:

‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ (Luke 23:46)

When I cease resisting and fighting against the painful realities of life, I know that I am not lost in a dark meaningless abyss. Light is always present. Love never has forsaken anyone. There is a force and a power at the heart of my being that, when I stop and penetrate beneath the surface of life, I discover is always alive. But, I must stop running. If I am going to be taken by the light, I must let go of the illusions that drive my fear. I must surrender my need for control and be willing to sit with the reality of a life in which suffering lurks around the dark edges.

In some mysterious but profound way, God suffers with me in my suffering. God suffers with the world in all its agony. There is no tragedy from which love is ever totally absent. To eyes that are able to see and ears that are able to hear, the heart of love never stops beating. As Paul declared,

Love never ends. (I Corinthians 13:8)

This is the point of resurrection. Love is the place where the cross and the empty tomb unite in a single glorious story.

So, the cross shows me the true nature of God. It announces the terrible price exacted by my sin. But it also points ahead to the faithfulness of love even in the midst of the greatest darkness.

The cross also shows the path God has ordained through tragic brokenness. It provides an opening to a place within myself where I apprehend more fully and deeply the love that forms and sustains the universe. The pain is an essential part of the journey.

At the moment of his greatest anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus resolved his struggle by saying to God,

not my will but yours be done. (Luke 22:42)

The way of love embodied on the cross is unleashed in the world along the via dolorosa of surrender. When I let go of my determination that life must go as I want it to go, I open to the power of love.

In Jesus God bore all our failures. God embraced the worst we humans could ever do. God accepted the crucifixion of love, goodness, truth, and beauty. He received in the body of his Son, the violence we so often exercise against the gentleness that is our true and deepest nature.

In the cross, I see that there is no failure that exhausts the creative energy of love. Through the worst that human beings could ever do, love emerged. Dawn was present even in the midst of the darkness Jesus bore. Light is not extinguished by even by the greatest human failure. When I see this light in the midst of the all that seeks to obscure it, I discover that there is no force on earth that can destroy the light that is my true nature as a being crated in the image of that God who is light and love.

When I give up clinging to my power and surrender my demand that life must be different than it is, I open to a renewed awareness of the indomitable power of Life. My heart opens to the presence of love. I discover the power of resurrection at work in all of life.