Letters to the Family of God

by Joe Franzone | May 19, 2022 | Pastor's Blog

Family of God - Website (600 × 282 px)

May 19, 2022


Turn up the lights—I don't want to go home in the dark.

O. Henry


Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.”


(Matthew 26:38) The Message

Dear Friends,


Most of us are afraid of the dark. What began somewhere in our childhood, to some extent, remains. We may not be afraid when we turn off the lights at night to sleep, but there are other kinds of darkness; there is a darkness that can make it seem impossible to see the way, and we don’t know where to go.


When death comes to those, we hold dear, this may be the darkest of darkness we will ever know as Christians. C.S Lewis helps us a bit when he reminded us in A Grief Observed that, we were promised suffering(s). They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course, it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.


If you have children, their death, I imagine, might seem something like an amputation. I have experienced neither, but with the former, I go through the paces of its possibility routinely. It's torture. But of course, it's nothing like the real thing.


When those we love suffer, there are limits to our care. You can’t really share someone else’s pain for as long as they have it. What you feel may be bad. It might honestly be as bad as what they are feeling, but we must go on to other things, waiting our turn. They, however, remain.




Douglas H. Gresham, who first met C.S. Lewis when he was eight years old, wrote the introduction to A Grief Observed, said of Lewis's pain:

This book is a man emotionally naked in his own Gethsemane. It tells of the agony and the emptiness of a grief such as few of us have to bear, for the greater the love the greater the grief, and the stronger the faith the more savagely will Satan storm its fortress.


When Jack (C.S. Lewis) was racked with the emotional pain of his bereavement, he also suffered the mental anguish resulting from three years of living in constant fear, the physical agony of osteoporosis and other ailments, and the sheer exhaustion of spending those last few weeks in constant caring for his dying wife. His mind stretched to some unimaginable tension far beyond anything a lesser man could bear; he turned to write down his thoughts and his reactions to them, in order to try to make some sense of the whirling chaos that was assaulting his mind.

Did you read this line? For the greater the love the greater the grief, and the stronger the faith the more savagely will Satan storm its fortress. How can we not think of Gethsemane? This sorrow is crushing the life out of me. Don’t leave me (paraphrase).




Loved ones, our God, unites Himself to us in our pain. Our God bled. In a moment in time, Christ was having the equivalent of a panic attack in the garden. In facing death, He asked not to be alone, being honest enough to tell us, out loud, the awful effects of our sin on Him. This is crushing the life out of me. Sin always has. Sin (its penalty) is why we die.




God is a God who bears. The Son of God bore our flesh. He bore the cross. He bore God’s wrath. He bore all our sins and achieved reconciliation by His bearing. He bore our suffering (Isaiah 53:4). The only way God could get rid of death was to put Himself into it. Indeed, if the resurrection is real, for all who believe in Christ, He must put Himself into the grave, die, and be raised. The New Testament witness says He did.


The oldest and deepest desire is the desire to escape death, including that which takes us to it. We can’t escape death, but we already know this. It’s not that death is natural. It isn’t. We aren’t like flowers. We were created to last. In Christ, the sting of death is removed. Yet, on earth, its repulsiveness remains.




There is part of me who knows that there is much more that I must learn about the nature of suffering. I didn't like writing that sentence, but I know it’s true. In the meantime, in suffering, part of the grace God gives us is the ability to abandon wrong thoughts about Him and life, which suffering can expose, even if it takes us a while to get there.



May God always give you peace in every way.


Pastor Joe