Friday, April 6, 2012

(Bump) A Very "Good Friday"

This was originally posted on April 2, 2010.

Have you ever wondered why the church calls today “Good Friday”? What’s so “good” about the fact that the One who Christians acknowledge as their “Savior” died such a horrible and “unexpected” death?

As humans, isn’t it hard for us to see death as a good thing? Most of us will spend all of our lives living in fear of death…doing all we can to avoid death. Many of us try to eat right, exercise, and stay generally healthy so that we can live long lives…and the rest of us feel guilty about not eating right and exercising.

But, Jesus said that He came to the earth, to live for a short 33 years, to have a public ministry of just 3 years, and to die, all so that we might be able to live an abundant life. To our simple human brains, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The idea that death can bring life is what we would call a “paradox”.

A paradox is a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement, idea, person or thing that is true or may be true. In other words, a paradox is something that is true even though it might not seem to make any sense to our human intellect.

For example, the statement, “This sentence if false” is a paradox. If the statement is true, then the statement is false. In which case, the statement is true, which means the statement is false...and so on for infinity.

Another paradox: “You can't get work without experience, but you can't get experience without work.” Somebody explain to me how exactly that’s supposed to play out.

How about this: “The customer is always right.” So, if two customers say that the other is wrong, both are right, and therefore, both are wrong that they are both right that they are both wrong that they are both right that they are both wrong, etc.

God is a God of paradox. For example, have you ever tried to think about the fact that God “Always has been”? For God, there never was a beginning. That’s a hard thing for us to wrap our minds around, considering we know without doubt that everything we experience as humans had a beginning at some point, even if we weren’t there to witness it.

Or, how about the idea of The Trinity – God is One and Three all at the same time. Even our best attempts as humans to explain this idea fall short. Maybe you’ve heard somebody use water to illustrate the Trinity of God…water can be a solid, liquid and gas. But, water cannot be all three of those things at the same time.

And, just as God often reveals Himself as a paradox, Jesus’ life on this earth was a paradox…listen to this:

JESUS had no servants, yet they called Him MASTER...
JESUS had no degree, yet they called Him TEACHER...
JESUS had no medicine, yet they called Him HEALER...
JESUS had no army, yet KINGS feared Him...
JESUS won no military battles, yet He CONQUERED the WORLD...
JESUS committed no crime, yet they CRUCIFIED Him...
JESUS was buried in a tomb, yet He LIVES TODAY...

It probably seems odd to most people outside of the church that Christians would gather together once a year to remember and celebrate the anniversary of Jesus’ death, but it’s because of this paradox, that Jesus’ death means life for you and I, that we have reason to celebrate. Death on a cross is a gruesome thing…bloody and painful and humiliating. Yet, there is a beauty in the death of Jesus, knowing that He willingly died because of His great love for us.

Maybe that still doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to you…so, let me share a short, personal story that might help illustrate why we call today “Good Friday”.

Two years ago today, on April 2, 2008, I woke up in a hospital room at Duke University Medical center in Durham, NC. I had slept there that night, just as I had many nights before those past few months, on the floor at the foot of my wife’s bed. Tricia was dying of Cystic Fibrosis and, at that point, had been bedridden at Duke for about three months.

A month earlier, Tricia had been placed on the double lung transplant list. A transplant, her doctors told us, was the only option Tricia had left. She was literally growing sicker and weaker every day, and the prognosis was that she would be dead by the end of that summer if her medical team could not find her a new pair of lungs. In fact, just the day before, on April 1, Tricia’s right lung had collapsed, which was a sign that her lungs were at the very end.

There were a few big factors that made finding a donor for Tricia very difficult:
1) Tricia’s blood type is very rare…so rare, in fact, that the doctors would later explain to us that there was less than a 1% chance of finding a donor that would be a good match for Tricia.
2) Lungs deteriorate more quickly than other donated organs while being moved from the donor to the recipient, so the window of time between the death of the donor and the actual transplant surgery would have to be extremely short. Unfortunately, transplanted organs are often moved thousands of miles from donor to recipient.
3) Because she had to have a double lung transplant, she could not have a living donor. Her donor had to be a deceased donor. Donating organs after your dead doesn’t hurt much (in case you’ve ever wondered), but, unfortunately, very few people make the decision to be an organ donor, so the “supply” of healthy lungs is very limited.

So, the chances that Tricia's medical team would locate a match and have the time to retrieve the lungs and perform the successful 9-hou surgery were incredibly small. Which is why, when we got the call that April 2nd morning that a match had been found and that Tricia would be going into surgery that evening, we were full of mixed emotions.

Knowing that a match had been found also meant knowing that somebody had died that day, probably unexpectedly and possibly tragically. It meant knowing that there was probably a mother, father, brother, sister, wife or husband, maybe even children who were experiencing a great loss, and others who were just being told the news of the death of their friend.

But, it also meant that somebody had made the decision during their life to become an organ donor…to offer the chance for Tricia to experience abundant life. So, not because of death, but because of life, we both prayed a prayer of thanksgiving for the donor and peace for the family AND we celebrated.

And, two years later, on this anniversary, we continue to remember the death of Tricia’s donor and the pain that this day might bring his or her family and friends...we pray for their peace and comfort today, and we continue to celebrate the abundant life that Tricia has been given.

So, tonight, at Nags Head Church, we’re also going to remember and celebrate, because we too know that Jesus’ death was meant to give us life, abundantly here on earth and for eternity. We will remember His death, thank His Father God for sacrificing His one and only Son for us, and celebrate our new life together.

Nate

31 comments:

Kathy said...

Reading this just reminds me how good God is. The way I see it, He shows us miracles do happen through events such as Tricia's transplant and the birth and survival of your daughter. Through all the pain, life is beautiful! Praise Jesus Christ!

Jane said...

beautiful writing!

Jenny Livingston said...

I needed that today.
THANK YOU.

Susan said...

I'm sure that Tricia's donor would be proud and happy for the purposeful and joyous life that he/she saved. You are an amazing family and it is wonderful to hear how much you appreciate the gift you were given by this stranger.

chocolate hug said...

Thank you Nate.

Erin said...

Tricia's story seems so fitting at Easter, especially--life through death. Sending prayers of thanksgiving for Tricia (and Gwyneth!) and prayers of comfort and peace for her donor family.

Vivian said...

thank you Nate...my God use you to bring others to Him.

Meaghan said...

That was one of the most moving, poignant and tangible explanations of celebrating Good Friday. It gave me chills, and much to be thankful for.

Thank you so much

katherine said...

Hey - Wanted to let you know. Eva had a full, front page spread in our local newspaper, The Vancouver Sun. You can check it out at http://www.vancouversun.com/health/gave+love+away/2756321/story.html

Anne Fischer said...

Nate, this is an awesome post. I started reading your blog the week after Tricia's transplant. After following you for a while, I made the decision to be an organ donor. Seeing what it's done for your family makes me realize how important a decision this is. If I die, I can choose/have chosen to try and help someone else have a 2nd chance at life. It's the least I can do.

Mare said...

Oh, What a powerful post! Touched my heart!

To God be the glory!

Jonana said...

I've been reading your blog almost from the beginning but never commented although there
were so many times I've started to. My husband and
now 9 year old son have prayed for your family through so many circumstances that you've posted about that we feel like we know you. But this was the post that finally moved me to actually comment. What a beautiful picture you've given of what Jesus did for us! I love Easter--it is the reason for our hope. Without Easter, Christmas is just a sweet little story! Thank you for using your story as a parable to help non-believers see what He did for us.

Laurie in Ca. said...

Beautiful words straight from your heart Nate. This is truly one of my most favorite and blessed Easter Stories in my lifetime so far:) Not to mention that we had little Gwyneth right in the middle of it too. God is so good and I am so thankful to have followed this from the beginning, what a miracle. Love you guys and wishing you the most wonderful Easter!!

Love and Hugs, Laurie

melissa said...

Here's a few more paraox's as the blog world sees it....

A guy meets a girl who he has to win over;) The girl finds with time he MAY be the one....to find in th end it really is a happily ever after.

The young guy has to pray hard that he knows with out a doubt he knows what's in store and is strong enough to walk through it...to find out he's stonger than he prayed for and is the biggest blsssing this girl has ever recieved and is more than any parent could hope for their daughter to marry.

To say "I do!" trusting that the two of you is more than enough to call a family...to find that a secret prayer was being answered in the exact moment that a line was being drawn in the med. advice sand.


Setteling in for the fight for life (every min. in the fight for a micro preemie counts- I know that our God made a choice for the last possible second)...to find a bright beauty with all her purpose laid out for all to testify God is ALIVE and well! HE answers prayers prfectly, He gives hope where all is lost, He uses us for His kingdom (Gwyneth, look how many U have saved). This one could go on and on.

A tansplant that seemed and looked to be impossible...To clebrating a "transplantavasry"!

Complications that pointed in a downward direction...to trying to find that the complicaion existed!!!!

In the trenches of prayer for just a chance to live...to find that all along we were a witnss to God on earth.

So many praises....So many lives ROCKED...So many more years to this story.

Sorry for the book;) I am blessed beyond measure just to read your blog.

Blessings

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to share that Nate, all the best to you, Tricia and Gwyneth Rose.

Lots of love
Rachaelxx

Brenna Kater, the Oceanskater said...

Thanks for sharing your story. I started following your blog soon after your daughter's birth. Now I'm watching my family go through something similar as my uncle had a double lung transplant just 2.5 weeks ago.

Ellen said...

Beautifully written! Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Even though I prayed for your family through that season, this post hit me over the head and the tears are flowing. How is it that I can care so much for a woman I've never met? How can I delight in pictures of a precious, thriving and adorable little girl I'll never play with -- but have prayed for since before she was born? Because of Christ! A donor gave their lungs to Tricia so that she might live and minister to us through her gracious ways and appreciation for life. Our Savior gave His life so that we might live and live abundantly! I am overwhelming grateful for both!

Thank you for sharing your story and for allowing us the privilege of knowing, loving and praying for your family. Your little family of three encourages and blesses me and mine.

Destiny

Chelsea said...

I love reading your posts. I always get so "drawn in". You have such a way with words, and are truly blessed with creativity. God is amazing.

Thank you for writing!

Candy said...

What a post. Wonderful writing, Nathan, putting these truths down for everyone. Sometimes we get wrapped up in the fear of death, more for what we'll leave behind. But what an amazing thing we'll encounter, being in our Lord's arms.

Kerry said...

It is hard to comprehend sometimes the sadness and joy that come out of the same set of events... My 9 day old niece died last week. My brother and his wife donated her organs. For another - possibly multiple other - set of parents my niece's death means their baby has a chance. For our family, it is sadness that she is gone. I am so proud of my brother and sister-in-law for giving life out of their grief, but we would give anything to have her alive with us.

Auntie M said...

Beautiful analogy. And (of course) just a wonderful story! God is so good. I know that every recipient of organ donation is grateful, but I somehow I think it's especially sweet to know that you & Trish (and so many others who know your story) really ARE praying for the family who gifted your family with life.
~Mary

Anonymous said...

Awesome post!

Anonymous said...

Beautifully Written - Well Said! Thank you for sharing your special talent of story telling. I wish I had a family historian with a blog of our own like your family does!

Kalani said...

Nate,
I thought you mentioned back in 2008 that Tricia had a common blood type... February 8th or 9th?

Lisa Beth W. said...

Amen! Great post, Nate. Praise God!

CFHusband said...

@kalani

She did have a very common blood type, until she received several blood transfusions that gave her some additional antibodies that made finding a match much more difficult.

jenny said...

Are y'all okay? Just missing your posts and wondering about you. God bless.

Monisa said...

Recently I came across your blog. I'm not sure what I was searching for but this particular story means a lot to me. My son, almost 11 months now, has CF. It is very difficult to think that a loved one may not live a "full" life. And "full" is our human minds and somewhat selfish desires. I appreciate your blog and I stand on the promises of God and count his blessings daily.

JananBergen said...

Nate, This post is so inspiring, as are you and Tricia. I have been following your blog for some time and actually have a link to it on my blog, www.DivineVictoryAssociates.com. Tricia used to come to Growth Group at my home in NJ with her parents and brother Joe quite a few years ago now. Her story and Gwyneth's life are just such a miracle of God. I am so glad to be able to follow your lives together and the ways God is using you to reach out to others. Keep the faith!! God is amazing. Love in Christ, Janan (Kenney) Bergen

Andy Sha said...

So much heart touching.
May God help us all.