Confession: I often mistakenly call Good Friday, Black Friday.
For example, last year I asked Lauro, “Are we leading worship for the Black Friday service this year?”
I know, I know, who could mistake the day we remember Christ’s crucifixion with the day people flock to stores and malls in hopes of getting the best deals on materialistic items? That’s me, this girl. (But in my defense, Good Friday is a day of dark and sad remembrance and Black Friday can be good and exciting to an extent, so the backwards analogies fit one another.)
Easter in Christian circles is very often associated with bright and happy things: New life! Resurrection! Rebirth! He is risen! I have found it to be a rarity, however, that we stop to really contemplate what makes these bright and happy things so bright and happy. It’s easy for us to rush through Good Friday and Holy Week itself because we know how the story ends.
I believe that the contrast between the bright and happy and the darkness is part of what makes Easter so powerful. There was death before the resurrection. New life happened and is still happening because there was also death. Death makes resurrection transformative and revolutionary.
It’s natural for me to have a more personal perspective on Easter and resurrection this year because of the darkness I have been working through these past few months. There were so many times that I questioned God angrily and out of great frustration why He would make depression part of my life. I had been a faithful and devoted follower for my entire life, my husband makes his living doing ministry, and we moved halfway across the country for God and for the Kingdom to be glimpsed more here on earth. And yet the darkness shrouded over me.
I’ve learned, both academically and firsthand, that we don’t know why there are trials and suffering in our lives. It is impossible for us to completely understand why bad things happen under the existence of a sovereign God; it’s one of those things that our human brains are incapable of making complete sense of. Our limitations as humans leave some questions unanswered to our satisfaction, especially when those questions are about the God who formed the entire universe.
When that suffering makes its way into our lives the natural reaction of our hearts and minds is, “Make it stop! Make it stop!” Can you imagine, though, how different we would be if it weren’t for the trials in our lives? I know that because of my inner battle I have become someone new, a better version of myself. I am better equipped to face adversity, not because my skin is thicker or because it’s easier for me to just tough it out, but because now I have more knowledge and tools to help me navigate through it. Trials are not necessarily easier to get through, but now I have a different mindset and healthier ways of handling them.
My perspective shifted significantly, and a major step I had to take in order to come out of the darkness was untethering myself from all the cliché reasons people gave for my suffering. There are no cures or long-lasting remedies for suffering. Instead of trying to wrap it all up with a pretty bow and believing in a happy ending I had to learn to lean into the pain. As much as I wanted to get out of it, what I needed to do was stay in it for a while and learn from it. Hear me when I say, though, that there are some types of pain that are also harmful to us and we need to get out of their reach as soon as possible. For me, however, this season was something I needed to go through and grow through.
It’s all easier said than done, of course. Even the act of writing about pain and suffering grieves me. I’m sad that pain exists in our world and that we see it play out every single day. I still find my heart crying out, “Make it stop! Make it stop!” Whether it seems like it or not, though, there is hope (and that hope may look different from what you picture). I’m here telling you that beautiful things come from the darkness and that things will get better, and the optimist in me wholeheartedly agrees, “Yes! It will!” The realist in me knows that you deserve to be seen in your pain, not for it to be minimized or made excuses for. What you need is for people to just be there with you in it, to communicate to you that you’re not alone and that you can take the time that you need to be in your pain. The realist in me knows that you’re probably tired of people trying to bring your story to its happily ever after when you just want them to acknowledge it for what it is right now.
And so we live in both the bright and happy and the darkness. It’s awful and beautiful and miserable and incredible. We can’t avoid the suffering that comes into our lives, but know that it’s not a waste. Death was what made the resurrection so powerful, so be encouraged: Even when things seem hopeless, the darkness can be a catalyst for your transformation if you let it.