by: Staci Stallings
Sometimes timing becomes important. This is one of those times.
Right now, as you read this Easter Sunday has passed, and we have entered fully into the Easter Season.
By the time you get to Easter, it’s sometimes easy to forget about Good Friday. Good Friday, the day Jesus hung on the cross and died for our sins seems almost a distant memory, in the past that feels much darker than the bright joy of Easter Sunday. And once you get to Easter Sunday, you really don’t want to go back and contemplate Good Friday. It feels better to just leave it in the past.
I get that. I really do.
But now, here’s the other side of the timing issue. For me, as I write this, it is the Tuesday before Good Friday. Easter Sunday is but a promise. It is not yet, in my world, a reality.
More importantly to the story is that yesterday was Monday, April 15, 2019. I don’t know if you remember what happened on that particular day, but over in France, there was a Cathedral called Notre Dame, and it caught fire and burned.
For 850 years it had stood, strong and tall, the steeple a beacon to the world around. And then the fire weakened the structure underneath and the steeple fell.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been here before.
On February 25, 2007, my home church burned down very much like Notre Dame. The fire started in the upstairs room, and by the time they got the blaze out, the only thing left of the sanctuary were the walls and a whole lot of rubble and ashes. Our baptismal font survived, but literally not much else.
I remember on that morning when I got the news, trying to make sense of this for my children who were roughly 11 and 8 at the time. I told them that the Bible tells us that Good Friday happens in life. It’s the day that to the untrained (or un-faith-ed) eye, it looks like evil won.
Jesus, the light of the world, hung His head and died. His grief-stricken followers took His body down from the cross and laid it in an unmarked tomb nearby. They rolled the stone in front of it, and to all the world, that looked like the end of the story.
If there’s one thing I’m starting to get good at, it’s Good Friday. We all have them. I walk through a lot of them in real life but also in my books. In the world, we want the fantasy romance. We want boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl falls for boy, and they live happily ever after. It sounds great. But in the real world, falling in love for real is fraught with Good Fridays.
Some of them are external things that happen. Girl loses her father for example, or boy loses his business. Those types of Good Fridays are tough. But the tougher ones are the ones where boy’s past drives him to make decisions that break girl’s heart, or girl tries to recover her heart by going with someone who is not the guy that really loves her.
Good Fridays are tough, people. Really, really tough.
And I don’t think we always understand that. I think most of us instinctively don’t like Good Fridays. We don’t know how to “do” Good Friday. We don’t know how to sit with grief or comfort the grieving. It makes us fundamentally uncomfortable. We would much rather bask in the sunshine of Easter Sunday when evil is destroyed and all is set right with the world.
The thing I think I’ve most come to understand is there is no Easter Sunday without going through Good Friday. You don’t get healed without acknowledging and working through the pain. You get healed by breaking down, surrendering, and giving it all to God—dying to self just like Jesus did on that cross.
My stories are about people going through their own personal Good Fridays and what happens when someone is really brave enough to do that. They are about how Easter Sunday awaits those who through faith walk through the valley of the shadow of death, give their lives totally to God, and let Him remake them in the rebirth of the resurrection.
So, I’m curious, dear readers, if you would like to share…. What stories have you read that really portrayed the difficulty of Good Friday and how it leads to the joy of Easter Sunday? Or what Good Fridays have you walked through that have led you to an Easter Sunday of your own? Or maybe you’re walking right now through a Good Friday moment. If you would like us to pray for you as you walk through it, please let us know.
I think each of these Good Friday to Easter Sunday stories are vitally important for us to hear and should be acknowledged and shared. Because when you stop being afraid of Good Friday moments, I think then God can work Easter Sunday miracles through you as more and more people see the miracle that the women found on Easter Sunday—an empty tomb, meant to bury the Light of the World and be the end of the story—becomes a new beginning that will change the world through rebirth and resurrection.
That is the really Good News!