This week is my birthday, and I am officially older, and have lived longer than…
We were not going to miss going through Hezekiah’s tunnel when we were in Jerusalem. It is a 1750 foot passageway built to bring water from one side of the city to the other during the reign of King Hezekiah. It is a remarkable feat of ancient engineering with no lights, no reflectors, and no natural vents to illuminate the passage. Since it was underground, it was easy to protect from enemies who might want to spoil the water supply. They just needed to protect the openings at both ends and fresh, clean water could be guaranteed for the inhabitants. The result is a very dark passage. As we got to the halfway point, we all agreed to turn our flashlights off. We literally could not see our hands in front of our eyes no matter how close we brought them to each other. We could feel the narrow sides and the short top. In the dark, somehow it felt like the tunnel was closing in on us. We pressed on however because we knew the truth about the passageway. We knew the darkness was temporary and that we would get to the other end if we kept moving.
As I have reflected on that adventure, it was easy to build the parallels to life. There are dark passages of life in all of our experiences that challenge our faith and test our confidence. The truth about these experiences is that Jesus takes the journey with us. He has been there before us and He is actively involved in redeeming them so that good is ultimately achieved. “I will never leave you or forsake you,” (Matthew 28:20) and “God causes all things to work together for good,” (Romans 8:28) are not just feel good religious statements. They are signs at the entrance of the tunnels in our lives.
I was reminded of this truth today by the description of the crucifixion of our Savior in John 19. It was, without question, the darkness moments of Jesus’ life. He was being mistreated, brutalized, mocked, and abused. Even in the midst of the torture, however, Jesus stayed deliberately on track. His confidence was unshaken because He had the road map and He was following it turn by turn. Notice the events that took place to fulfill a prophecy from the Old Testament:
- This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said, “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” (v. 24 – Psalm 22:18)
- Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” (v. 28 – Psalm 69:21)
- These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken . . .” (v. 36 – Psalm 34:20)
- “. . . as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” (v. 37 – Zechariah 12:10)
- At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid. (v. 41 – Isaiah 53:9 buried with the rich)
In His darkest hour and at His weakest moment (humanly speaking) Jesus put His confidence in the clear promises and planning of His Father. He knew He would get through because God had promised. He knew He could finish the course because God was with Him. He knew the pain would eventually be replaced with reward because God had set His heart to honor and glorify His son. He knew that His death would be an offer of salvation to the whole world.
I know there are dark passages ahead. I also know that half way through the tunnel it is going to feel dark and ominous. Options will seem limited and I will wonder why I set out on this course to begin with. But, I also know that God has promised to be in the tunnel with me and to do more with the experience than I ever dreamed possible.