Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. (Luke 23:46)
At his most desperate, at the end, having gone through the experience of abandonment, having endured humiliation, torture, and scorn, and now facing death, the final words Luke has Jesus uttering come from a song about trust in God. ‘Into your hands I commit my spirit’ is drawn from Psalm 31.
In his pain and loneliness on the cross Jesus finds solace in the scriptures which had formed, shaped and directed his life.
For me this begs the question, what stories are we so deeply embedded within that we can find solace, strength and direction in our darkest moments?
The stories that shape us, can not only bring us much consolation in times of hardship and great need, but can also shape our responses, our reaction to situations we face. Just as athletes train their muscle memory for instinctive response in competition, we can prepare ourselves to be able to respond creatively, courageously, non-violently, and with humility and grace when we face desperate situations.
The stories around us in films, on television, in the media, too often invoke a fight or flight response to injustice, violence and hardship. By soaking ourselves in the story of Jesus we prepare ourselves to follow his example of creative response, of taking up our cross, of refusal to succumb to violence and oppression in our lives and the systems we are part of. Just as Jesus was able to find strength and trust in God from the stories that had shaped him, so too we can find strength and trust in our darkest moments.
For the times when we could easily fall into despair, for the times when we could react with violence or cowardice out of fear, for the times when God may feel absent from our lives, if we truly allow ourselves to be shaped by the stories of the life, actions, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus, if we commit ourselves with trust to God, then we too may see life come out of our own darkest moments.