By Megan O’Brien Crayne
Megan O’Brien Crayne is the campus minister for the BRCC.
We live in a time of profound suffering.
Some of the suffering is physical; we see infection, death, and domestic violence rates rise daily, hear of friends and family who have fallen ill, and read dire warnings of hospitals that are near capacity and healthcare workers who do not have adequate PPE.
Some of the suffering is emotional; depression and anxiety are on the rise as people settle into the new normal of social distance and isolation, grapple with the reality that so much that we were looking forward to is now cancelled or postponed, and suddenly fear for their job security and financial future.
And all this on top of the “normal” sufferings of our world, of refugees with nowhere to go, of prisoners being treated unjustly, of families struggling to provide, of war and violence and chronic illness and grief.
Good Friday, too, is a day of profound suffering.
Jesus is disowned by Peter, his closest friend, three times. He is struck by guards for answering their questions truthfully. He is handed over for judgment by leaders of his own faith. He is found innocent, yet brutally scourged. He is publicly mocked with a crown of thorns and a purple cloak. He is condemned to death. He is forced to carry his cross, the instrument of his own suffering and death. He is nailed to his cross and feels abandoned by God, and people watch as he slowly, painfully, inches closer to death.
Jesus knows all of the pain that we feel right now. He knows our pain because, by his self-sacrifice, he entered into the depths of human suffering. He knows our physical pain. He knows our emotional pain. He knows our spiritual pain. He knows what it is like to feel alone and abandoned and wretched.
And he doesn’t just know it because he felt it 2,000 years ago. He is here now, suffering with us. A friend of mine recently asked me what I thought God’s “master plan” for the COVID-19 pandemic was -- what God hoped to teach us, or do with us, through this. I told her I thought God was just sad.
On Good Friday, we are reminded that God is here, weeping with us.
Good Friday is a day when it is okay to be sad. It is okay to feel despair. It is okay to feel alone. In fact, that is the point of today. This Good Friday, lean into the discomfort, the angst, the turmoil that you feel. Don’t feel the need to explain it away, or be more productive than usual, or tell the world that you are flourishing through the pandemic. Lean into it, and feel Jesus suffering right along with you.
I don’t want to get ahead of the story, but -- even though we don’t know it yet (imagine how his friends and followers must have felt before the resurrection!), hope springs out of despair, and light springs out of darkness. We are a people of hope, a people of the resurrection. Thankfully, the story does not end today.