Today, on Good Friday, God put a simple, but challenging word on my heart to share with you all.
While Easter is all about celebration, resurrection, new life, and the spring that finally comes, Good Friday, the day that Jesus was crucified, is about mourning, death, pain, and the long winter that seems to never end.
As Christians, we are often guilty of wishing to solely experience the “Easter” moments--spiritual highs, circumstances working out in school or work, and breakthrough after breakthrough. We know pain is part of growth--but boy, do we wish that pain will be manageable, and brief. We desperately want to reach the Kingdom to come, when God will take away all crying and pain permanently. After all, the difference between this present world and the Kingdom to come is that we still have to deal with pain, stillness, and death here-- those pesky “Good Friday” moments.
AND YET, God’s key way of making life beautiful in the awkward in-between of this present and broken world is precisely through those Good Friday moments.
In our longest Good Friday moments lay the most potential for us as Christ followers. After all, the essence of Christ’s power is that He took THE Good Friday moment--the death of the Son of God-- and used it to glorify God. Our challenge is to take our own Good Friday moments and allow God to make something beautiful in us, and out of us, through them.
I am convinced that the worship offered in times of sickness is more precious to God than the worship offered in health.
The faith offered in times of confusion and loss is more precious to God than when the future appear rosy.
The obedience offered in times of physical, emotional, and spiritual pain is more precious to God than obedience in times of joy.
This is because we model a Savior who walked through the deepest physical and spiritual pain a man could experience and obeyed God anyways. Who never gave up His love for us. Who never gave up his own faith that God would come through and His own worship in the midst of it.
Right before He was taken away to be crucified, Jesus spoke these words to his disciples in John 16:
“In a little while, you won’t see me anymore. But a little after that, and you will see me again....
I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.”
For a pregnant woman, childbirth is a time of intense pain and anguish, but there is joy that follows naturally from the suffering when she gets to see her newborn baby. In the same way, Jesus explained that his followers would experience pain that would flow into joy when they saw Jesus again. Something beautiful would be birthed through the anguish of their separation. This promise remains for us, His followers today.
So much of life in our current age is centered on minimizing trials, inconveniences, and pain we could potentially face. We have whole industries devoted to limiting, avoiding, or negotiating away any risk of pain or discomfort. Yet I am convinced that today, and all days, God is scouring the world for people who are not asking to be comfortable, but asking to be brought closer to His heart. God is a wild, loving, untamable, fiery God. He loves us, yet His love is deeper, more fierce, more consuming, than anything we could experience on this earth. His love simultaneously offers the deepest risk and discomfort we could face, yet the place of greatest safety and love we could experience.
God is asking us this Easter, are you willing to experience discomfort, hard work, or pain in order that I will be glorified in you and through you? Will you let me challenge you with the fullness of my love?
As I write this, I am convinced that some of you reading are in the midst of a season that feels like a long, withdrawn “Good Friday” moment-- a time when it seems that God’s presence has left, the future seems uncertain, or you are simply being challenged to endure and keep believing day by day. I feel that God is reminding you that spring WILL come--but don’t try to run out of the season that you are in now. There is a glory and a joy and a fullness of transformation that you can reap where you are. While you are in it, you may as well reap everything that God wants you to come out on the other side with.
For others, I feel you may have a burden God has put on your heart -- something that feels sad or tragic in the world that you wish more than anything could be fixed. Perhaps you feel helpless so you try not to think about it too much. For you, I feel God is reminding you that when you feel a burden like that, He is actually inviting you to share a part of His heart. God cries and weeps for the brokenness He sees in the world. We are so busy in our own lives that sometimes we don’t fully embrace the opportunity to partner with His heart by sharing that burden, that sadness or righteous anger over something gone wrong in our world. Will you allow yourself to settle and confront the burden that God has laid on your heart--to pray on it, and act on it? If you’ve never experienced this kind of burden before, will you be brave enough to ask God what is troubling His own heart this Easter season, and how you can play a part in redeeming that area of brokenness?
For all of us, I hope you will be join me in challenging yourself to be okay with stillness, uncertainty, and silence. To be okay with whatever season you are in --knowing that as long as we are in this world, we will all have opportunities to experience our own “Good Fridays”--and the Easter that will follow. And when it comes, that Easter will be all the sweeter for the waiting.