The growing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has left many feeling frustrated, losing hope and faith in God, life, family, love, finances, or something else. Even some of the most ardent believers in Christ will have moments when faith falters, when you’re lonely and exhausted, where grief grabs ahold of you, when all that you’ve believed feels empty, and when you can’t see beyond the pain to grasp hope. How do we keep moving forward when the resources on which we depended vanish? This Good Friday and Easter will be like no other. And even though the coronavirus has made planning our lives and Holy Week a bit more challenging, we must not lose sight that the Easter season is truly about hope.
“What was so good about Good Friday” is a common question. It’s an understandable one, given that, according to the Bible, the son of God was betrayed, arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, put on trial before the chief priests, beaten, and ordered to carry the cross on which he would be crucified and then put to death. It's difficult to see what is "good" about that. Crucifixion was a slow, painful, and embarrassing death in which Jesus’ hands and feet were nailed to a wooden cross where he hung for hours.
But Good Friday also reminds us that because he lives — because Jesus died, but rose again on the third day — we live. That’s what is so good about Good Friday. It commemorates the death of Jesus that resulted in new life, new hope, and new possibilities for all who put their faith in him.
Of course, the fact that the darkness of Good Friday ends in the triumph of Easter does not mean the end of human suffering. Everyone has experienced suffering at some point in life. And while suffering is a season, at times a long and difficult season, suffering typically has a beginning and an end. Even now, all of us are troubled by the challenging circumstances around us, from the loss of family or friends to sudden changes in our daily routines. We are feeling the impacts of layoffs, businesses closing, and, for too many, the struggle to determine where the rent, mortgage, or next meal will come from.
However, God promises to never leave us nor forsake us. And our trials and tribulations are not without purpose. We need to call out to God as we seek to protect our country, its people, the world, our lives, and the lives of those we love. We need to pray for everyone who is on the front lines of this pandemic: medical professionals, military personnel and first responders, mental health professionals, faith leaders, supermarket workers, delivery truck drivers, and others who have been tasked with responding to this crisis. Many of them do not have the luxury of sheltering in place or social distancing. We pray especially for vulnerable segments of our society including black and brown Americans with pre-existing health conditions, who are disproportionally affected by the coronavirus.
Our suffering and struggles may not end today, but if we turn to God and confidently replace fear with hope and faith, God’s unconditional love and power can transform even the most devastating circumstances. As Psalm 30:4 reminds us, “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Remember, when we are weak, our God is strong. Hope in God is how love overcomes fear, how light overcomes the darkness, and how life overcomes death. It also reminds us that what may be impossible for man is possible with God.
Only God has the power to heal and to make all things new. May today and every day truly become “Good Friday” for all of us, as we confess our sins and put our faith and trust in Christ. God is our constant source of hope. Psalm 39:7 reminds us that our “hope is in Him," not circumstances or people. Like Jesus’ wounds, our wounds can bring healing and our weaknesses will bring strength. Make prayer a staple in your life and watch God work within you!