Early on a gloomy Good Friday, my daughter and I tucked our heads to shield our faces and ducked into the building to escape the cold drizzle. The weather of the previous day was preferable: bright sunshine and thirty degrees warmer. My agenda had also been preferable: a relaxing morning at home, an Easter egg hunt with friends, an enjoyable game of soccer, then dinner with grandparents.
Some days, we must choose to embrace the hard task.
With our minds willing our hearts, we stepped into mock trial practice. We’ve been here before with my older son. Mock trial is a hard school assignment. It stretches my personal teaching ability, requires teamwork and coordination, and insists on long-term diligence. Each time we approach this assignment, I dread the middle of the process.
This year, the dreaded middle collided with Easter weekend. It was a slight miracle to coordinate a time for nine homeschool families to gather. So we made the choice to exchange beautiful relaxation for hard work. I begrudgingly surrendered our resurrection celebration.
Death to our desires, an exchange of our agenda, a surrender of something good.
My heart determined to join the discussion of prosecution and objections. But God’s plan for my heart included a law, a principle, higher than our judicial system. He provided beauty I could not create. In divine ordinance, He offered joy I could not expect.
In the midst of our academics, my heart received reminder of this beauty:
Mock Trial is a hard thing. Easy things require little or no faith. Jesus had hard things to do, too. There was once this cup – a cup He would have liked to have seen pass Him by, but it did not. So, He drank from it. For the joy set before Him, He drank it dry, and as we are conformed to His image, we have been called to not shy away from hard things either. (paraphrased)Marc Hays, Classical Conversations Challenge B Curriculum 2018, page 31
Drink the cup. Expect true joy.
Jesus chose to leave the Garden for a walk to Calvary. He willed Himself to drink the cup of suffering. He surrendered the beautiful experience for something better. As a result, he lives in joy and offers us joy in Him.
The clouds never parted that Good Friday. But something in my heart shifted. As I watched our young teenagers seek justice and defend mercy, my heart saw beyond the hard task. A ray of sunshine never burst through the window, but a Light shined in the darkness of my heart.
Joy-filled learning doesn’t merely come from created experiences. It’s not merely walking together in the park, reading books in a hammock, or creating crafts at home. Those moments are important, yes, but God always has more.
My surrender of a good plan revealed God’s better plan. As our teenagers approach adulthood, they need a joy that Mom cannot create. They need to learn, as we do, to receive a joy that comes through the struggle and trial, through the gloom and despair. It’s a joy that exists because Jesus drank that cup.
You can create moments of relaxation. You can create moments of celebration. But only God can create moments of resurrection. Only God can create true joy in the midst of struggle.
Mom, you have a choice today. Surrender your good plan for His best plan. Receive the gift of a hard task. Put to death your good desires so He can breathe His life into your day. So exchange your preferred agenda. Embrace the hard task. Expect His true joy.
In Jesus’ pierced hands, the result of hard work and struggle is beautiful joy.