Clinging to the cross

August 1, 2009 | 17 comments

I propped myself beside Anna on her “Hello Kitty” pillow, and slipped an arm under her back. She lay quietly in the bend of my arm. We were two souls pressing together to welcome the night.

“Time for bedtime prayers, sweetie, and then to sleep,” I whispered. “It’s late.”

She groped in the dark for her cross — made from twigs and twine — that lay on the bedside table.

“Hold it with me, Mama,” she urged, and I put one hand over hers, so together we would clutch the cross.

“You want to start?” I asked.

“Yes, Mama,” she paused. “But …”

Anna quieted on this night, still holding twigs.

“I wouldn’t have done that,” she whispered.

“Wouldn’t have done what?” I asked.

“Hang on a cross, and let them stick nails in my hands, and not even get a hug first,” she said.

And we lay quietly, looking at hands clinging to a cross, and remembering the Cross where grace flowed down from a God-man who died alone.

And I remember this:

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” — which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” — Mt. 27:45-46

In the theology of a five-year-old girl in striped jammies, “forsaken” meant this: Jesus died without a hug.

This is the double death of Jesus — intense physical agony alongside spiritual separation from the Father.

He died alone,
so that we don’t have to.
Jesus, who had no sin,
became sin for us.
We have been crucified with Christ,
yet we live.
And so we cling to that cross
On which he died.

(The beautiful irony of our faith.)

“I couldn’t have done it either, sweetie,” I said, hands still entwined with hers, … and with her cross.

And I pulled her in closer, acknowledging this need we have to touch,
to hug,
to feel the warmth of another,
to feel like we belong,
to know we aren’t alone,
to find hope,
in the shape of a cross.

And together we closed our eyes, and whispered sweet thanks together: “Thank you, Jesus.”

(Drawing courtesy of Lydia, 2007.)

by | August 1, 2009 | 17 comments


  1. Mr.Joe

    Thank you for a beautiful post…being a Christian myself, the post made me question whether I could have done what Jesus did.

    God Bless,
    Joe =)

  2. christy rose

    Great insight from such a little girl. None of us could have done it. That is why God Himself before the foundation of the earth planned to be the redemption of mankind all along. He was not plan B. He was plan A. Only He could have suffered for all of the sin of all of mankind for all of eternity. Even if we could have done it, it would not have been sufficient enough, even for our own sin, let alone the sin of the whole world. The sacrifice had to be a blameless, spotless, perfect Lamb.

    Thank you Jesus that you thought us worthy to lay down your throne to become man and suffer the price that only we deserved.

  3. Lyla Lindquist

    Oh, she has understood the bigger part of this. The part of that "double death" we as grown ups can't even get. He went alone.

    Without a hug.

    There are a lot of reasons He gives us these children. I'm seeing more and more why He gave you yours.

  4. peggylee

    Sweet post today, brought tears to my eyes and made my heart skip a beat. Children are so understanding of what Love is. I never thought about the fact that Jesus died without a hug. I will always remember this.

    peggy lee

  5. Angela

    Beautiful! Thanks for the reminder. Sometimes we just need to remember how much we are loved.

  6. Candi

    I am so thankful for my girl, who, like your girl, speaks spiritual wisdom I need to hear. I suppose that's what Jesus meant when He said, "Unless you come as this little child, you can't enter the kingdom of Heaven."

    Thank you (and thank her) for exhorting me on this day.

  7. Beth E.

    This post gave me chills…it's impossible to comprehend the depth of God's love for us, the suffering that Jesus endured for us…

    Praising Him for who He is and what He has done!

  8. RCUBEs

    It's no wonder why kids are so close to Jesus as they see everything in a different perspective, so innocent yet full of meaning and truth.

    How can anyone understand the unfathomable love that comes from God? Even on the cross, He welcomes us with open arms…

    Thank you for sharing this intimate moment with your daughter. So precious. God bless.

  9. Hage Family

    Hi!!! Thanks so much for reaching out on my blog! I don't "think" we have any close relatives in Iowa, but you never know!!! My husband's father was adopted into the Hage family as an infant…they are lebanese here. Are your neighbors Lebanese??

    Too funny! Anyways,,,glad you reached out! Look forward to getting to know you better!

  10. Pttyann

    Hi Jennifer
    very well done! I enjoyed the read and I also gives thanks to Jesus for "Hanging in there for me".
    Love ya

  11. Faith Imagined

    You are such a wonderful writer! I enjoy reading your posts!

    BTW, I gave you a blog nod at my place! Blessings!!

  12. Arianne

    Amen. Very precious little girl you have. You are doing a wonderful job teaching/witnessing to her the most important things. God bless….

  13. Epiphany

    What a beautiful post. Thank you.

  14. God's Not Finished With Us Yet...

    That was such a beautiful post Jennifer!! So beautiful and so very sad to consider how very much alone Jesus was the day he was murdered. Which makes Him so special because most all of us would not be able to handle such a thing but he chose to, for US! Can you imagine that kind of love? It's hard to really. It certainly does take the eyes of a child to put things into perspective sometimes about Jesus dying without a hug, no comfort, not a stroke on His head or hair to show some love. That hurts my heart just imagining such a thing, but it's so crucial to try to imagine because it's what makes me love Him all the more. His love for us was well before our love for Him ever existed.

    Thanks for sharing this heartfelt story!


  15. Jennifer

    No–I don't believe I could've done what Jesus did, either. Each time I'm reminded of His sacrifice, it leaves me speechless and in thankful tears.

  16. Colleen

    So beautiful. Thanks.

  17. Billy Coffey

    From now on, that's exactly how I'm going to describe Christ being forsaken. I don't think anyone could say it as perfectly as Anna.


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