My fondest memories of my father focus on the times we worked together. My father knew how to fix everything. As a result, when we needed a new roof, we would replace it. When we needed more lights in our house, we would run electric lines. When we needed a new deck for our house, we built it. I witnessed and partook in many jobs that transformed brokenness to rebirth.
As a child, every time my father took on a major house project, I was in his hip pocket working and learning by his side. Our relationship grew during these endeavors, and I never felt closer to him than I did while we worked. I remember on many occasions sharing my concern that a job seemed daunting and beyond our ability. Each time my father responded, “The Lord hates a coward.” His faith in his skills and in God to grant him the patience and courage to move forward inspired me to do the same.
The phrase The Lord hates a coward reminds me of Good Friday. The phrase provides me a perspective on the human nature of Jesus and how he must have felt about the daunting task that lay before him. In Mark’s Gospel, when Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, he says, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” This prayer reveals Jesus’ human nature. He is afraid. He feels abandoned. He senses doom.
This dark scene, however, is interrupted by the light of Jesus’ faith in God. Jesus overcomes his fear of the crucifixion because he knows God’s will will lead him from the cross on Good Friday to the empty tomb on Easter Sunday. Jesus knows that to overcome sin and death, he must first suffer death at the hands of sinners. We know in Luke’s Gospel that Jesus seeks forgiveness for the very people who were nailing him to the cross. Once again, Jesus’s faith in the Father gives him the courage to forgive even during his crucifixion.
We know Jesus takes up his cross, carries it, and walks toward his death, which was the will of his Father. He doesn’t walk away from the will of God and God listens to Jesus’ prayer in the garden. As a result, God gives him the courage and faith not only to accept his cross but to forgive those who handed him the cross. The relationship between the Father and Son becomes inseparable because their wills are aligned, and they grant us salvation.
Good Friday reminds us that we, too, must align our wills to God’s righteousness even if it presents a daunting task. How do we teach our children that aligning our will with God’s will helps us transcend the crosses we bear so that we too can ascend from the empty tomb? As parents, we must set an example of a willingness to be vulnerable enough in front of our children that we are willing to ask for God’s help. We must also set the example of forgiving others who have offended us in any way. This may require concealing our outrage of the world’s evil. Perhaps, allowing our hearts to bloom with an ever-expanding sense of mercy to set the tone for our children to seek peace in a world of violence.
Perhaps, as we pray our way through Holy Week, we may pause on Good Friday and contemplate deeply on the first step of the resurrection. Perhaps, we must teach our children not to avoid the harsh reality of the crucifixion, but rather embrace it to bring a wholistic understanding of Resurrection Sunday.
As I reflect back on my childhood, I am astounded by the fact that my fondest memories of my relationship with my father have nothing to do with good times. My fondest memories rest in the reality of the challenges we faced together to take something that was broken or damaged and by aligning our wills to a good cause, we transformed brokenness to wholeness. Now, as I embrace Good Friday and life in general, I truly understand what my father meant when he said, “The Lord hates a coward.”