Navigating the Unexpected
By Pastor Paula Lawhead
Psalm 118: 25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
It’s the last week of Lent before Holy Week and I don’t know about you but I am finding myself a little burned out. The expectations I had for April 1st back on March 1st have completely changed. All of the opportunities for this Spring have now gone by the wayside and I find myself daily trying to navigate the latest state of the world. My family life has changed, my work has changed, my level of demand has changed. Certainly, what I expected out of this spring, even three weeks ago, has changed completely.
Throughout these forty days of Lent I have said over and over that this season is truly about our recognition that we are people in need of a Savior. Perhaps now more than ever we understand the mass of people calling out to Jesus, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” on his ride into Jerusalem all those years ago. This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, when we recall Jesus’ entry into the final week of his life. Jesus has been diligently making his way to Jerusalem; knowing that our need for a Savior will soon become a fulfilled promise. Through his own suffering new life has opened for us. Even now, when it feels like just the opposite is true; we do not trust our feelings, but the One who says, “Do not be afraid. I am with you.”
“Hosanna!” we will say on Sunday as we wave our palm fronds. I feel that so deeply. Many hear that word, Hosanna, as a proclamation of praise. Indeed, that is what it has become. But the word itself does not mean “praise.” In both Greek and Hebrew it literally means, “Save us! Save us, we pray!” As Jesus rode into Jerusalem, he heard the mass of people crying in faith to the One whom they believed could help them in their distress and suffering. “Save us! Save us!” they cried. And Jesus heard their pleas and he did just that. We know that he rode into Jerusalem and made his way right back out the other side to the cross.
And now I am back to the unexpected. As the cries went up for salvation, the expectation was altogether different from what actually transpired. Everything the disciples and other believers expected for their future by week’s end had been turned upside down. But what we know is that they are still in the middle of the story. We know it was not the end. What looks like prolonged suffering and defeat is actually the preamble to the new life they had been yearning for.
Like those first century believers—who recognized their need for a Savior and cried out to Jesus—we, too, are in the middle of the unknown. Life is changing before our eyes, and all that we expected even a few short weeks ago is now seemingly up in the air. But hold fast. As we cry collectively this coming Sunday to our Lord, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” Gathered with all others around the globe—with our families, our children—we proclaim together, “Hosanna! Save us, we pray!” And Christ still hears and he still acts on our behalf. He has made his way to the cross in order to be with us in our suffering and to say, “this is not the end of the story. Peace be with you. New life is coming, and it is here!” Keep watch for the resurrection.
May God bless you and keep you in this coming Holy Week.