musings on worship and christian living

As Seen From Eyes of Suffering
April 10, 2009, 12:37 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is a note written by one of my best friends Jonathan Middlebrooks.  It was so powerful I asked for permission to reblog it for people to read that aren’t his Facebook friend.  I hope that the words spoken here impact you to the level they have impacted me, and you will be struck with the immense weight of the original Good Friday. 

From the notebook of Jonathan Middlebrooks – 4/9/09

I am writing this note for a couple reasons. One of those is to help me get through this day while another is to maybe help others experience this day in a deeper and more profound way. Good Friday was always difficult for me to get into. I knew what Jesus did for me on the Cross and how central it was to my faith but I struggled to personalize it. As you all know almost a year ago (April 15th) my wife Samantha died in a horrific car accident. The experience completely shattered my life, all the hopes and dreams we had together. Suffering found me on that road.

I now go into Good Friday with a great and terrible understanding of suffering and trauma. Our vehicle was hit by a 28 foot steel pipe which rolled over Samantha’s side of the truck. It weighed around 3,000 pounds and was going around 70 MPH. As you can imagine her small, fragile human body had no chance to survive a collision with such an object. Unfortunately, I wasn’t severely injured at all and was able to jump out of the truck and witness the destruction this pipe had caused to my beloved wife’s body. What I saw will be forever seared in my memory until Jesus renews it in the Resurrection.

About two weeks after the accident I was at Skyline when during the message they showed a picture of Jesus from The Passion of the Christ movie. It showed his face bloodied and broken from the beating. I had to get up out of my seat and go to the bathroom. I went into the stall, locked the door and sat in the corner weeping uncontrollably. You see, I knew what it was like to look upon the one you loved who had been broken, who had been rendered near unrecognizable. I was in the bathroom shaking like I was having a seizure. I now understand what it means to be so effected by an event that it can control your entire reality (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually).

I can imagine that the disciples and Jesus’ mother experienced the same things after watching him be ridiculed, stripped naked, beaten, whipped, spit on, and ultimately crucified right before their eyes. I wonder where they went that night. Was their night on Good Friday like mine was sitting in a hospital? Your world has been shattered, your mind has been broken, your heart is been pierced. Waking up in the morning hoping it was a bad dream. Going over every single second before, during, and after in agonizing detail. Thinking about all the things you could have done differently that might have avoided this terrible event. 

Now think about all the things I’ve described and remember that Jesus chose to go through that suffering. In fact, Jesus had to go through that suffering in order that my suffering might not be in vain. Paul says that in all things Jesus was the firstborn, even in death and along with that suffering. After having witnessed and experienced what I have I can’t say with any confidence that I would willingly enter into suffering on anyone else’s behalf, I mean it sounds really good to say so but I don’t know. In all that Jesus knew he continued to move forward toward certain death. He did it so that my suffering might not be in vain, that He can know me in an intimate way. He did it because He knew that it was the only way to encompass and take on all the evil in the world and turn it back into life.

If you are still reading this I just want you to encourage you to enter into this Good Friday more than any other in your life. I know I will be. Don’t let it be just another service, just another holiday, just another way in which he halfway engage church life, just another way that we pay pitiful lip service to the most extravagant sacrifice and extreme suffering in human history. I know that for me it will be a day of sorrow and weeping. Also, remember that the disciples had NO CLUE that Easter was coming. They couldn’t see the future and had no clue that Jesus would rise from the dead, we see that from hindsight but reading that back into the text cheapens the day.

I’ll end with a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.

Good Friday is a day to receive costly grace.


Middlebrooks Truck


6 Comments so far
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Thank you so much for sharing, Jonathan. I can’t even imagine how difficult this is for you. You are in my constant prayers this week.

Comment by Elizabeth Morris

Thank you for posting this, Nathan. Having prayed with you for Jonathan at the time of the accident, it was very moving to read this. My prayers continue to be with him and you.

Comment by Julie

I had not known about this until now but my hear goes out to Jonathon… and all those impacted by the tragedy.

Just over a year ago (May 2), my wife and I gave birth to identical twin girls only to lose one of them 2 days later. I held her as we took her off life support, etc. So I relate in my own way to what Jonathon shared in his post.

The Valley of the Shadow of Death is indeed “wide” and many paths crisscross throughout it at any given time. I sometimes get caught up in walking my own path and feel very alone on my journey. It is good to be reminded that others find themselves in the “valley” at the same time I do. And it’s good our paths met today via the blogosphere.

I have written quite a bit about my experience on my blog including an article I posted today (May 26 entry) that was originally written back in April leading up to Holy Week and touches on similar ideas to the ones Jonathon shared here.

Thanks again for sharing part of your story.

Comment by Alan

[…] who knew her, believer or not.  She is deeply missed.  You can read a blog post about the tragedy here if you haven’t […]

Pingback by Songs for Someone Project « musings on worship and christian living

Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking your feeds too now, Thanks.

I’m Out! 🙂

Comment by online stock trading advice

wow wow i know that shaking stuff that throwing up from crying. i personally dont know who to believe in or what but this is encouraging. christ does know if anybody does. but gettting out of that stall or off the floor is the hardest part. Im still in that stall crying from time to time. Actually all the time. this life sucks I don’t even care people should be honest every once and a while so I will be. anyways thanks jonathon this was really amazing and thanks nathan.

Comment by reid kerr

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