Today I took my kids on a mini road trip to the strip mall about an hour away. We had lunch and got a few things they needed and a special treat each. On the drive home the sun was getting lower in the sky and the voices of two dear friends singing “It Is Well” flowed through my speakers. Out of nowhere my mind drifted back to some of the hard things we’ve walked through. I guess it’s become a habit for me – when life gets painful and difficult, I think back. We’ve been to a version of this place before. The sun set, but it also rose again.
My mind wandered through miscarriages and fertility testing… phone calls that crushed dreams and broke hearts. I thought about my baby boy in an Ethiopian hospital and the nights I cried myself to sleep afraid the morning would come and he would be gone. I thought about hospital visits and surgeries and diagnoses. I thought about the few weeks a three summers ago when we let our minds consider the possibility of our daughter having cancer. I thought about lies being revealed and trust being broken and relationships fracturing and life turning inside out.
I drove down the highway listening to my sweet friends sang “It is well… with my soul…” while hot tears fell and I swallowed hard. Is it really well with my soul?
It’s Good Friday. We call it “good” because hindsight is a special gift and we know what grew from the horror of the cross. We know that from death we were given life… first the burial, then the rising. Redemption was given new meaning. But on that first Friday there was nothing good to be seen. It was simply crushing.
I try to put myself in their sandals – the disciples, Mary, and the ones who loved and followed Jesus. They must have been shocked by the turn of events. The story seemed to be headed in a different direction. They watched miracles unfold before them. They walked side by side with God’s own Son and recognized him as such. But this didn’t feel like victory – the cross had defeat and devastation written all over it. They didn’t know Sunday was coming. They didn’t know that this unthinkable turn of events would last just three days. All they knew was the sting of death.
In this, I can relate to them well.
We live in a Good Friday world. We get these glimpses of Resurrection Sunday, but so often it feels as if we’re suspended in the three days between. It’s one long wait and everything is painful and confusing. Things that should be whole are broken instead. Life seems to be headed one way and suddenly we’re derailed by a phone call or a confession or a knock at the door. We’re frightened, heartbroken, and tired. Sunday seems so far off because we don’t know when it’s coming.
Good Friday is about pain and brokenness and sacrifice and grief. It’s when everything that ever went wrong with the world came crashing down on one person, and those who loved him and walked with him weren’t exempt from pain. Neither are we.
But they were delivered from it. As will we.
Some wounds have been healed and some haven’t. Some trust has been restored and some is still broken. Some friendships have mended and some heartbreaks healed, but some are fresh and brand new. Sunday feels so very far away.
But someday Sunday is coming. It might not be in three days, but it’s coming. That is the hope we have and the truth I cling to. The disciples moved through those three days with grief and despair, not knowing that Sunday morning would come and with it the Son would rise. But them not knowing how everything broken would be made right didn’t make the hope of Sunday any less true. The resurrection was coming whether they understood it or not.
I hold on to that hope. I do not understand how God is going to redeem or restore the broken pieces in my life. I don’t know when he’s going to fix the fragments of my heart.
My tears might last through a very long night… but joy will come when the sun rises. (Psalm 30:5)
I suppose that’s why I look back. When things get hard, I need to remember. I need to remember the times that life seemed unbearable and confusing and hopeless. And I need to see how far we’ve come, what was pieced back together, and what was made brand new. Today holds new hurts and new fears.
Bombs are dropping.
Children are being gassed.
Families are drowning.
Churches are fracturing.
Neighbors are yelling over fences.
Hearts are breaking and lives are shattering.
Today is Good Friday. Resurrection Sunday feels so far off. But it’s coming.