The Friday Before Easter

As I start to write this, it’s a little after 5am on the Friday before Easter. Often in the past it seems I have hurried through this day. Certainly I know the symbolism this day brings within Christianity, but it can still be easy to internalize it as “This is just the Friday before Easter”.

I got up a little earlier today partly because it’s a busy day, but also because I wanted to have enough time to get through a book I’ve been reading. Bear with me here, I’ll get to the point. It’s a book by Jordan Peterson titled “12 Rules for Life an Antidote to Chaos”. If you know anything about Jordan Peterson he’s a clinical psychologist who has come to fame in the last few years. 

The part of this title that is most intriguing to me is the concept of an ‘Antidote to Chaos’. My thought prior to reading was “ok where are you going with this”. The book essentially introduces 12 concepts that, according to Peterson, are crucial to understand if we want to figure this whole “life” thing out. As you can imagine in true Jordan Peterson fashion, it’s highly philosophical and psychological.

But, I want to focus on one specific theme of this book, suffering. It addresses the concept of suffering in a scientific way that I’ve never entirely thought through before. Peterson argues that life is suffering. In other words, life is tough, if you haven’t encountered challenges yet, hang on because you will soon.

The distinction he makes is in “how we suffer”, this is what really defines our life. He further claims that the only possible antidote we can have to suffering is sacrifice. He gives several illustrations of why he thinks this is so, but one is in reference to a ‘caveman’ hunting a wooly mammoth. The cave man learns that he can’t eat the entire mammoth at once. Even if he desires to eat more, he must eat some now and sacrifice the rest for another meal so he won’t starve. Peterson goes on to outline the complexities of sacrifice that human tradition has developed over the centuries.

The book also introduces how humans psychologically “unpack” the concept of good and evil. He references the story of Cain and Abel. Abel, obviously being the ‘good guy’ here with his ‘pleasing sacrifices’ was incapable of overcoming the imperfections of his brother. Then jumping to the story of Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights confronting evil on his own terms, but this time the ‘good guy’ wins. Jesus overcomes evil through a series of events, or temptations, that try to entice him to give up his mission.

Ok, now back to my 5 am reflections. A thought from reading this book that I realized I personally have overlooked prior are the nuances of the life of Jesus that allowed him to symbolically take the imperfections of the world upon himself through the cross. Thinking of myself here, and most of the people I know, “suffering well” is hard. It’s so hard! The concept of performing at an extremely high level through the challenges of life is a daunting task. It’s one that is fueled and matched with extreme discipline, or ‘sacrifice’. It’s a task that has to be met with a thousand great habits that keep you from going off track.

All of this discipline is just to keep our own life’s challenges from overtaking us. But what if our friend or our spouse is also facing significant obstacles? Are we strong enough to take those on too? What if there are multiple people we love all facing extreme challenges at the same time. How could anyone possibly live a life that would be so disciplined, so sacrificial, so perfect that they could take all of that on themselves?

I think for me, on this particular Friday, I realize that I don’t always ‘sacrifice well’ I don’t always ‘suffer well’. Sometimes I’m not disciplined enough to perform at my own highest level during life’s challenges, and I’m rarely disciplined enough to excel at taking on other people’s challenges. Yet, somehow Jesus did. 

Somehow Jesus’ life was a perfectly orchestrated symphony of discipline, rest, building connection and relationships, and a million other habits that I can’t possibly live up to. In fact, I’ve already failed at. Certainly Jesus faced immense suffering of every kind: relational, physical, emotional but he still felt nothing but joy. Through all of this he was a joy to be around. Not just in the sense of ‘you know I enjoyed talking to that guy’ but to the extent of people dropping everything just to follow him. They just wanted to be around him to figure out where this joy was coming from and how to obtain it for themselves.

The cost of having this type of joy was significant though. The sacrifice was high. It wasn’t comfortable. For this message of joy and hope to reach us thousands of years later it required a payment.

The payment was the cross.

About Author

Brent is an expert in marketing and creating engaging digital content. He loves writing, reading, podcasting, and learning. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, serving in his Church, and photography. He is an aspiring sky diver who dislikes jumping out of planes. He is a tiny-house enthusiast, who gets claustrophobic. He values growth, leadership, and kind people.

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