It’s ironic isn’t it that we say today is Good Friday when in fact we’re sort of definitely celebrating someone dying. I mean, it’s totally fine because Jesus comes back from the dead so that we can all have eternal life – sin is defeated, death is defeated, Jesus has the victory.
It’s an okay kind of dying.
But when I put my usual Good Friday post onto Facebook this morning I realised that today isn’t a good day for everybody. This post is difficult to write because of how emotionally attached I get to what I’m saying, but it might not necessarily be easy to read, either. This was my verse of the day today (and what I posted on Facebook #ClicheChristian):
In some parts of the world today, today is Bad Friday. Today is a Bad Day. I’m not writing this to make anybody feel bad or unworthy, because that definitely isn’t the case. I’m writing this because the fact is the world needs Jesus. Last night, I started watching a new documentary that had been on the BBC called Sex in Strange Places, and some of the stories that the women had to share literally broke my heart – namely the escapee sex slave who had been captured by ISIS. Almost crying over my laptop screen was not what I was planning on doing last night when I settled into bed, cup of tea in hand (Netflix had nada on that I wanted to watch, so why not start a meaty documentary series, eh Annie?). The stories of these women and the way that they were treated by the people around them just showed me how awful and nasty a place this world can be. It just made me even more sure of my faith and my belief in God – regardless of whatever you believe, stay with me a minute – because surely, if this is the world we live in, Jesus has to be real otherwise what is the point? Where is the hope?
It made me all too aware of my own sin, too. It made me aware that I am a sinful person with baggage and hurts and bad habits, just like everyone else. And that while I’m not living in a war-zone or struggling to find food to eat, I still have that horrible label hanging over my head: sinner.
Every year on Good Friday I realise how much I need Jesus. I realise that in the year long (or almost year-long depending on when Good Friday falls, #calendarfun) gap between the last Good Friday my relationship with Jesus has changed, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse – maybe I need to make more of an effort with my bible or my prayer life, or I need to give a bit more time to the needy people around me. Maybe I need to just rest in his presence a little more or be a bit more active in my faith. Practice what I preach, that kind of thing.
But my need for Jesus as my Saviour remains ever the same.
This year there seems to be a turn of phrase floating around about Easter. Nearly every Christian I know has either said or posted a video online that says the words “Sunday is coming”. Sometimes I think we live in Friday for longer than we should. It’s stagnant and it’s stuck – it’s like Sunday is too far off or too unbelievable to come. It’s like I’m too sinful or the evil in the world is too powerful for Sunday to come. After the recent attacks in Belgium, and the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, it’s like that evil and that oppression and suffering is too painful for Sunday to come.
I’m usually in a place where I’m stuck in Friday. The only reason we called today Good Friday I think is because we see it through the eyes of Sunday – the Sunday that already came. But what about those people then who didn’t know Sunday was coming back then, or the people in Brussels or Syria who definitely don’t see Sunday coming at all today?
There has to be hope. There just has to be, and I’m choosing to believe that there is. Even when hope seems lost, there is a choice to carry on and there is a choice to believe. The human race throughout history has proven itself to be fairly robust and pretty darn persistent. I’m yet to see us completely give up, and to completely step away from the idea of hope. My hope is found in Christ – in the belief that I am not too sinful for Jesus to love me, and that his death on that first Good Friday really does become that mighty resurrection on Sunday.
I realised though this year (and here comes the difficult bit) that when I say the world needs Jesus, I mean the entire world. I mean the lady who was abused by ISIS militants, but I also mean the militants themselves. I mean the people who are hurting in the world, but I also mean the people who have hurt others, too. Hope cannot be hope if it is not complete or transforming for everybody involved. Justice cannot prevail if nothing changes – on either side. You might be reading this thinking Annie, you don’t know what I’ve been through or what has happened to me. How can you say that? – and if I’ve offended you, I’m deeply sorry for that. All I’m trying to say is that if Sunday is coming, then Sunday has to come for all of us, not those of us who have been wronged. It has to include those of us who have wronged. That’s what hope and new life is in Christ, isn’t it? There is nothing more powerful and more likely to cause change than undeserved and sometimes unwanted grace. When we forgive and we are forgiven, we change because we just have to.
The thing is, Christ does arrive on time – just as the verses up top say that He does. I have a tendency to build myself up to be better than other people when I think about my sin. I think oh, well I didn’t kill that badger on the motorway so I’m definitely a better person than so and so, but that’s not the point. Even when I think of the worst of the worst, the most evil thing I could think of, the Bible tells me that Jesus loved that person enough and the Cross shows me that he loved them enough. If we want to talk about injustice, try the death of an innocent man for the sake of a sinful world. That is just messed up.
When I was without a purpose, Jesus gave me one. When I was lost, He found me. On that Friday – that Bad Friday – an evil did happen, an injustice took place. But when Sunday rolled around, as it will again in 2 sleeps’ time, hope won, and all that was Bad became Good again. And while it may not have all made sense straight away, and while not every hurt or bit of suffering was wiped away at once, hope began to spread. It infected us as it continues to infect us that in such a broken and damaged world we can still wake up and face the next day. We can come together and press on, holding each other up and persevering. I feel like I’ve rambled enough, and to be honest most of this was just me trying to formulate some sort of thought or explanation for the lady from the documentary and her suffering, as well as the recent attacks all across the world, not just in Belgium.
I don’t know if what I’ve said made much sense at all, and if it did and you kind of understand what I’ve been trying to say, then I’m glad. But either way, Happy Good Friday to you, and I hope that in the light of Sunday you find hope wherever you are.
Peace and blessings x