“The cross reminds us that God is present, especially when it looks like he’s not” (David Zahl, Mockingbird Devotional, p. 62).
What does Zahl mean here?
When do you feel closest to God? Isn’t it when everything is going “right”? When everyone is healthy? When there’s money in the bank account? When the car or house or appliances are working, and the future looks rosy? In other words, when you’re feeling “blessed”?
But then the hard times come, don’t they? Adversity strikes. You get sick. You lose your job. You can’t get an interview. Your marriage has never been worse. You aren’t talking to your sister or brother. A child dies. Your wife dies. And that picture-perfect life you were hoping to lead fades away to something more resembling a living nightmare.
In those moments, God can feel very far away.
But here’s the truth: your feelings are lying. God is present. The cross reminds us of that.
When the disciples saw Jesus hanging on the cross, they thought God had abandoned them. They thought it was all over and fled like rats. Little did they know (at the time), not only was it not all over, it was all just the beginning.
God had not left the scene; He was at the scene, right in the thick of human misery and suffering, on that cross, fulfilling His promises, and doing something brand-new for creation. God was in Christ doing the greatest work the universe had ever seen—being the Lamb of God and taking away the sin of the world and reconciling it to Himself (John 1:29; 2 Cor 5:19)!
From a human perspective—from the perspective of your “feelings”—the cross looks like the absence of God. But from the perspective of faith, the cross means that God is present in your darkest times, bringing you salvation.