I WAS practically crying all throughout the service. I am sure those who sat around me (except my husband) thought it must have been the way the Holy Communion was introduced.
The worship leader had done a wonderful job describing the wonders of our salvation; how Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for us, and asked us to reflect on what our life would be like without Christ. The way I was sobbing, the people around might have guessed that I was once a really incorrigible kid.
Next came the sermon. The speaker’s vulnerable sharing of his own pain moved many and I could see a few seated around me shyly drying their eyes. My tears were flowing copiously.
But I was crying because I was missing my little girl – and – because of what God had just said to me.
We felt that since she was already two, we would place her in the nursery so that we could, for once, enjoy a worship service together (we had both been pastors). She cried almost languidly when we left her. Being her mother, I could identify the sense of terror in the cry. It broke my heart to have to leave her with strangers.
The fear was not unfounded as we had just moved into a new home in a new country. So I was crying too. Through my tears, and as I prayed for my daughter, I felt God open His parent heart to me.
“I have felt this way and much more, Jenni. I watched my Son get mocked, beaten, ridiculed, punished, and die. The separation I felt has no earthly parallel.”
Immediately a vivid image of my dear Saviour’s blood-stained face, writhed in agony, flashed before me. I could almost hear him wail in anguish, “Why have you forsaken me?”
We have read these words of Jesus so often, and we comfort ourselves as they resonate with our persistent fear that God would grow distant and cold for whatever reasons … The fact is, God has promised not to forsake us, yet in making that promise, He himself had to suffer a separation that seared through His eternal being.
I wept all the more as the high cost of Christ’s sacrifice dawned afresh on me.
Then I heard God speak again. “You hurt so much because you don’t want your daughter to doubt your love for her. How often have you doubted my love for you? … It hurts too.”
Now mingled with gratitude and awe was a sense of remorse as I know too well how I incessantly question God’s ultimate goodness. But God’s voice was tender to me: I readily confessed my lack of trust and rest in Him.
From that Sunday, both my daughter and I were learning to trust in a new way.
Jenni Ho-Huan, a Presbyterian preacher, is the wife of the Rev Philip Huan, who is now at Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, the US, on a scholarship programme. They have a two-year-old daughter, Abigayle Ru-el.
HIGH COST OF SACRIFICE
‘God has promised not to forsake us, yet in making that promise, He himself had to suffer a separation that seared through His eternal being. I wept all the more as the high cost of Christ’s sacrifice dawned afresh on me.’