There are times in life when all appears to go wrong. Sometimes it is just something small that we can laugh about later on. Other times come when something really important happens to us or those near us, when all seems to go wrong; a redundancy, serious illness or bereavement. At these times many feel that there cannot be a God - why would he allow this to happen? We feel forsaken.
It is amazing that this experience of desolation is found at the heart of the Christian faith. If you take St Mark's Gospel, about a third of the whole book is concerned with the last week of Jesus' earthly life. It relates the story of the good man Jesus who was betrayed, punished and cruelly executed - and how his friends forsook him. Jesus himself on the Cross cries, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' We sense the despair of his friends as all their hopes seem to be at an end. ‘It is finished' cries Jesus from the Cross.
So when you or I experience that awful time that news seems to be bad, everything seems to be going wrong, that God seems distant, we share the same experience that Jesus and his disciples shared on that first Good Friday.
Why on earth is it called ‘Good'? It is because the Christian Church has believed the teaching of Jesus that in some mysterious way his suffering and death on the Cross has opened the way of forgiveness and resurrection life. There are various explanations of this - but I think no one theory will cover everything. Some say it is all explained by Jesus carrying for our sakes the punishment that we all deserve for our sins. Maybe this is all of it. I think it is part of it. I can't fully explain or understand it, but I believe that Jesus' death on the Cross brings forgiveness, life and freedom to humanity when we accept the invitation of Christ.
There is that famous verse in St John's Gospel, chapter 3, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life' 3.16.
In the four Gospels we read of Jesus predicting that this would happen and then he would rise again. But it seems that when it came to that first Good Friday his friends were more focussed on what they were witnessing - they seemed forsaken and defeated.
Good Friday is followed by the wonderful festival of Easter Day - when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Could this really have happened? It seems incredible. But I always think of two things here. On the Friday the disciples were broken. Shortly afterwards they were set on fire with the belief that Jesus had risen. I don't think that there can be any other ‘launch-pad' for their ministry than that they experienced meeting the risen Christ. Then I remember too my own experience of coming to faith because I seemed to find an echo of the resurrection in my own heart - the living Jesus seemed to come real to me.
So there is so much to celebrate at Easter. But it was preceded by Good Friday. Someone once said something like this; ‘There is no pit so deep that he is not deeper still'. Maybe, in some mysterious way God can take the tragedy and suffering in the world and change it for good in the long run. He appears to have done that with Good Friday.
Lynne joins me in wishing you all a very happy and joyful Easter.