God, I’m dying here!

What do you do when you are in your darkest hour? What do you say when you see no way out? What can be done when you find yourself crying, “God, I’m dying here”?

Like Jesus on the cross, I can only see three things to do:

  1. First, admit that you are dying. You finally see the factual finality of the death that has slipped over you. Something is certainly coming to an end. It is not necessarily a momentary trial to test you and tomorrow everything will be back to normal. A death of some kind has entered your door. You’ve been left hanging, fastened securely to some kind of cross from which there is no escape. You finally realize that there is nothing you can do but accept it, take it in, and submit to it. You are dying. And you know it.
  2. Second, say, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The god you believed before is not rescuing you. There is nothing but silence. No one is answering. Any help you get is just small and momentary reliefs, like a small sip of water or a brief recognition of your pain. But that’s it. You feel forsaken because perhaps you actually are! No one understands. No one can help. And there seems to be no help forthcoming. Your idea of who your god is must undergo the most radical and disturbing of metamorphoses. The god you used to believe is now gone forever, forsaking you finally. Admit it.
  3. Finally, say, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” This is surrender. That’s all we have left. We can at last surrender our spirit, in weakness and humility, to the overwhelming forces at work. This does not mean giving up. This does not mean spiritual suicide. What it means is that we finally realize, in our humanity, that there are some things we are powerless to change. It is a subtle but crucial transference of our spirit from our own grasps and from our now bankrupt version of who we thought our god was to the Mystery of That Which We Know Nothing Of.

I know this may sound depressing. But I didn’t want to beautify a very grim reality of our human existence. This part of our journeys must be respected. Taking up the cross and dying daily is not a pretty sight. It is not a pleasant experience.

But this is the only way we make ourselves eligible for new life. This is the only way we become poised to become new creations.

We hope that the metaphor of resurrection communicates a certain power that is at work in the world. This is what we die for. This is what we live for.

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PLEASE NOTE: THE COMMENTS DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT OR EXPRESS THE OPINION OF THIS BLOG, NAKEDPASTOR, OR THE WRITER, DAVID HAYWARD, BUT ARE SOLELY THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY THE WRITER OF THE COMMENT.

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20 Responses

  1. Ed Babinski says:

    You're confusing Gospel renditions of Jesus' death and last words. Mark and Matthew depict Jesus' life as ending with "a loud cry," not with the calmly spoken words of a dying philosophe, "Into thy hands I commit my spirit."

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  2. Ed Babinski says:

    Though admittedly Luke does say Jesus said it "loudly," but that's part of the accretion of legend, since Mark and Matthew didn't say what Jesus' last "cry" was. By the time Luke was composed someone "filled that in." Mere curiosity has a way of filling in the blanks when it comes to famous figures and their last words. It's John that simply has Jesus take a sip of the wine vinegar and say "It is finished" and then lowers his head and dies. Nothing "loud" nor any "cry" is mentioned.

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  3. Thirza says:

    wow. love this new view. inspires me thank you ;)

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  4. David Waters says:

    Have gone and am going through that now. In bearing our cross, being responsible for who we are, we feel the most distance, yet are closer than ever.

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  5. Rhonda Sayers says:

    I am still in the begging for the cup to pass by me stage....
    Thank you for speaking this truth in such a way that I can accept it, even though I do not yet count it as joy.

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  6. When my husband, John, passed, I went through the dark night of the soul. There were friends and there was family, but so many times, I felt so alone.
    Up to this point, I thought I was a Christian . . .
    I got mad at God.
    I never hated Him, but I didn't understand. I was just angry, hurt, and lonely.
    Looking back, David, I went through all these stages you describe here.
    I came out on the other side with more faith, more conviction, more love than I ever thought possible.
    Sometimes in life, when we hear the answer as "no", it is a "yes" to roads He has planned before we can ever imagine.
    Thank you for bringing us back to the cross and the crosses in our own lives. Through the sorrow, I've learned to embrace life with thankfulness.
    God bless,
    Martha

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  7. Johnfom says:

    Ed, take this as a genuine question with no attack intended: So what? Does that change the substantial point of the metaphor,is the point made void by the partial harmonisation of accounts?

    Or is this just a bit of nitpicking (which I'll put my hand up to say is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon)?

    I'm asking because I think I'm missing your purpose is there, and my ignorance is bugging me.

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  8. Caedmon says:

    Step 1: We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.

    Step 2: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

    Step 3: We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.

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  9. Nancy T. says:

    Hmm. This seems like a really good approach to spiritual issues, and general life issues, where one is in real pain, but working through things more philosophically, or at least has some ideas of where their boundaries are.

    As for "What do you do when you are in your darkest hour? What do you say when you see no way out?" ...when it is that you are at a loss, or raging against the fates, or looking for answers... or if you have a firm handle on what your boundaries are... then it really isn't a problem.

    However, if you are completely lost in pain, and not looking for answers but a way out, and you aren't so sure what you're boundaries are... then the next bit,
    You finally see the factual finality of the death that has slipped over you. Something is certainly coming to an end. It is not necessarily a momentary trial to test you and tomorrow everything will be back to normal. A death of some kind has entered your door.
    ...might be a bit problematic. Admitting your dying, and admitting you're better off dead aren't terribly far apart in the mind of a person who is in great pain and/or depression, and who does not have a firm sense of boundaries that make that a non-option.

    I know how you meant it and I'm not trying to nit-pick... but for some people, that first question, "What do you do when you are in your darkest hour"? The most pertinent answer might that when you finally see the factual finality of the death that has slipped over you that you fight with every fibre the impulse to follow metaphorical death with a physical one.

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  10. marcie says:

    Next time I'll be braver I'll be my own savior when the thunder calls for me...next time I'll be braver I'll be my own savior standing on my own two feet!

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  11. Steve Martin says:

    "I know this may sound depressing. But I didn’t want to beautify a very grim reality of our human existence. This part of our journeys must be respected. Taking up the cross and dying daily is not a pretty sight. It is not a pleasant experience.

    But this is the only way we make ourselves eligible for new life. This is the only way we become poised to become new creations."

    Awesome, David.

    Great theology.

    Jesus said, "If you are to gain your life in this life, you must lose it."

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  12. Steve Martin says:

    Here's a good one on just this topic...dying...to the self...and physically.

    http://theoldadam.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/the-great-book-of-romans-chapter-8.mp3

    Enjoy may not be the right word...but I'll say it anyway...enjoy.

    .

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  13. Patti Mobley says:

    Just find myself so grateful that you're breathing air at the same point in earth-time that I am David Hayward. Thanks for this. It's nothing short of awesome.

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  14. Louise says:

    @ Martha Thank you for sharing your story, I went through a very similar experience after my husband was killed in a motorbike accident. Like you I have now come to embrace life with thankfulness and joy. I can honestly say I'm glad to be alive.

    Where God was while I was in the throes of grief I cannot say- there was no comfort to be had from my faith.
    My perception of that which we call god has now changed, it's more abstract yet more intimate at the same time. And Christianity seems too small to contain it.

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  15. deb says:

    wow, thanks Dave!

    and i agree with Patti, "Just find myself so grateful that you’re breathing air at the same point in earth-time that I am David Hayward. Thanks for this. It’s nothing short of awesome"

    and Louise, "...And Christianity seems too small to contain it."

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  16. marcie says:

    As I read this again it really made me think about the last ten years of my life and what my darkest hour really was and meant. Thought is it worth the time it would take to type out on this phone would it be of any value to others? In the last few days I have come to realize after believing it was my love affair with the church that was the problem that it was not it all. Nothing could have prepared me for the horrers that would fallow after leaving. It was like letting out a caged beast. This was the me separated from the conscience. I always took my inner voice for granted until I was faced with a life in her absence. Destruction is her name!
    But in it all my god sent an angel, a women who hasn't ever read a bible or attended a church service. I would beg her to just walk away but she did not. I stand in awe that i learned the meaning of unconditional Love from one many would call a heathen. I fought this beast that the structure of religion had only caged but god desired that i face, battle and put to rest. I am humbled and now understand what this word salvation means, what death of the soul is, what unconditional love is. Before, although i didn't understand it, i only experienced it as one who stood behind the vail.

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  17. Erin says:

    Thank you so much, David, for posting this. My husband and I lay in bed the other night just grieving in this place of isolation we find ourselves in after questioning our faith and doctrine and finding it unsound. So grateful for those who have gone before us and share their experiences, like you.

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  18. Thomas says:

    I like this post. I didn't really see it as a downer, in fact it's kind of reassuring to see that I'm not alone in dealing with the hard times.

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  19. nakedpastor says:

    interesting erin. love your little story. nice to meet you!

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  20. tonia says:

    This is a really great testimony. Very true to what most people experience in their lives. How do we handle it? The best way we know how as no one out their really know how we feel, what we are going throught, and what our thoughts are. I find your coment as most accurate. Gratefully we can say, "into your hands I commit my spirit". Many churches: church members seem to look at people like us like leppers. Or should I say see a demond around every corner. These people actually contribute to our devistation and destroy the little hope we may have. I have looked onto certain church "leaders"!!!! for direction only to be further judged and tossed aside. I am trying my hardest to overcome my resentment towards these people and focus on the Lord. I do beleive that He loves me just the way I am and my walk with Him is personell. I am not accountable to others [the self righteous], only to God. Our understanding and thoughts may differ tremendousy. But our respect for one anothers point of view, no matter what we beleive or not beleive, should be accepted without anger, rage, judgment or any other negative reaction. God is our redeemer and our judge - not man.
    There is nothing worse than being in a dark place. Further more nothing worse than being there and having to put up with the extra pressure from judgmentle people.

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