Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Jesus was nailed to a scaffolding, dying by crucifixion, when the criminal being crucified next to him asked if Jesus might remember him—I suppose he was referring to when they were both on the other side of death. The criminal asked for some mercy, and Jesus gave him mercy and comfort, promising that he would see paradise that very day.
We can safely say that this thief beside Jesus was in desolation—dying and afraid. We don’t know if he made this request of Jesus out of desperation or if he experienced true faith and recognized Jesus for who he was. But the man turned to Jesus. And Jesus, dying himself, answered with generosity.
When going through desolation, we come up with all kinds of reasons not to turn to Jesus. We feel guilty—surely we brought this on ourselves, we think. Or we feel that Jesus doesn’t really care. Or we assert that many other people suffer more than we do, so we should just be quiet. At these times, we need to remember the thief on the cross and how Jesus responded to him.
Forgive me, Lord, for not counting on your mercy.
—Excerpted from Small Simple Ways by Vinita Hampton Wright