There’s a lot of suffering in the world. I’m not talking about your four year old begging you to listen to a Dora the Explorer album for the hundredth time. I’m talking about real anguish. Spiritual suffering is something every human being goes through in life, to varying degrees. Regardless of what leads us to experience spiritual crisis, it is a reality everyone has to deal with in life.
Good Friday is here. People ask all of the time why it’s called “Good Friday.” Besides the fact that it’s good that Jesus willingly died for our sins on the Friday before Resurrection Sunday, I think there’s a reason beyond that. It’s called Good Friday because, as Jesus went through an unfair trial, torture, and death, He experienced spiritual anguish firsthand. On Good Friday, Jesus felt far from God. He never felt more isolated from God while up on that cross. He quotes from Psalm 22, which is a passage of Scripture pretty bleak in its desparation.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.”
It makes us uncomfortable that Jesus felt so far from God as to quote this. Jesus is supposed to have this tight relationship with The Creator that no other human has ever been able to have. Yet Jesus finds Himself torn from the typical closeness He and God the Creator share. This is an integral part of the Good News wrapped up in Jesus’ death. If Jesus can experience feeling forsaken, then maybe it’s not so horrible for us to feel this from time to time. Maybe this gives us permission to be free from the guilt of feeling spiritually dead or God’s absence.
Good Friday is for those who feel like God has forsaken them. It is for those who have run out of hope. Good Friday is Good Friday because Jesus takes on a chasm of separation from God for us and experiences it. He identifies with us, especially when we feel distant from God.
“O God, be not far from me.”
I think God answers this prayer. Jesus appreciates this prayer, since He lived it. If you dig into the rest of Psalm 22, you see how the author rails against God’s perceived absence only to find that he has ultimate trust in God. It is no accident that Jesus prays Psalm 22 while on the cross. It echoes His pain and mirrors His suffering. And, in the end, the psalm speaks to an unswerving trust needed to endure a tortuous death.
“But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.”
May Good Friday be good news to you. May trust in God course through your veins, even as you feel far from God. You’re in good company.
From the book Love Does by Bob Goff:
“Day turned to night, His freinds scattered and death thought it had won. But Heaven just started counting to three.”
Friend, if you feel far from God right now, Good Friday is for you. Take comfort in Jesus’ suffering, both physical and spiritual. He identifies with our anguish and promises that it doesn’t die on the cross. Resurrection is coming.