I have been sick for two weeks. At the start, I thought it was just a cold. Boy was I wrong. I have been struggling to breathe ever since. Every little thing causes my breathing to get worse, so I have been virtually living in lockdown. And I am no better.
I finally made it to church this morning for the Good Friday service, and a lovely young couple there offered to pray for me. I misted up and accepted their kind offer. They prayed that I would be healed immediately.
Afterwards, they asked me how I felt. I took a couple of deep breaths. ‘About the same,’ I admitted.
And it got me thinking.
How often do we rush ahead to the healing without acknowledging the pain and suffering? How often do we ask God deliver us from difficulty instead of enduring? How often do we look to the resurrection and skip Good Friday?
How often do we look to the resurrection and skip Good Friday?
I am not against praying for healing, and I was very touched that friends at church wanted to pray for me. At the same time, I know we often want to gloss over the pain in our lives and get straight to the good bit. And we can be tempted to do the same with Jesus and his crucifixion.
But today, on Good Friday, Jesus is not yet resurrected. Today his disciples grieve. Today it hurts.
Thinking about Jesus dying on the cross can be upsetting. It was a cruel and gory way to die. I don’t like to think about the graphic detail too much, as it can make my stomach turn. Something in me, on Good Friday, wants to turn away.
Something in me wants to turn away.
Isn’t turning away at the heart of what Jesus went through? His disciples turned away from him, the whole world turned away, even his Father turned away. Maybe the issue is not the fact we’re focused solely on the resurrection. Maybe it’s the desire to avoid and play down suffering.
Except we can’t avoid it. Being sick for these past two weeks has taught me that. I have visited doctors, taken medications, even been admitted to hospital—and I feel no better. I am not yet resurrected. I am in Good Friday.
The resurrection is a beautiful thing, and our hearts yearn for fresh hope in this weary world. But let’s not skip the part that made it all possible: the brutal crucifixion, where Jesus chose not to turn away from his own suffering. This Easter, let us feel the pain of it and grieve for him.
Let us feel the pain and grieve for him.
Let us look on him in wonder, he who willingly chose the cross, as we await the resurrection.
How do you approach Good Friday? How can you make space this Easter for both lament and hope? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation.