We are a society that has gotten used to consuming, medicating, or distracting our way out of crisis. Not this time. No amount of online shopping, prescribed pills, or positive thinking is going to get us out of this one. By the end of this holy week, Covid-19 cases will likely hit 2,000,000 worldwide and deaths will reach 100,000. That fact is so sobering. We can’t cliche it away. We can’t disney-drown or netflix-binge our way out of facing our own mortality in this season. It is staring us in the face no matter where we look. The convergence of Easter with the worst week of the crisis only heightens that. We can’t bunny over our sense of fragility and loss.
This Good Friday doesn’t feel good at all. But then, neither did the first one. So what makes Good Friday good? Simply this: Good Friday reminds us that we are not alone. Jesus hangs with us in our most crucifying moments. He understands pain, and loss, and death at a deep human level. He knew that we were not strong enough to bear these things, so He bore them for us and took them to the cross. The two men who hung on either side of Jesus have traditionally been known as Gestus and Dismas. One recognized what Jesus was doing and chose to turn to Him in hope; the other got stuck in his present circumstances and chose to look away in despair. One could only see the problem. The other, Jesus said, would see Him in paradise. We all have the choice of which one we are going to be.
The other half of the Easter equation is Resurrection Sunday. That is where the hope is. After the long Saturday of silence and suffering, came the bursting forth of a new day. What the old negro spirituals called: ” That great, gettin’ up morning!” This is the place where there is purpose beyond the pain, life beyond the loss, and a doorway beyond death. That is the awesome hope of the Christian that makes Good Friday good. It doesn’t mean that we live in denial or feel the current reality any less. But as people of faith we recognize that Romans 8:28 is in full effect and we have something and Someone strong enough to carry us through. We know that it is Friday. But we also know that Sunday is coming.