Luke 23:23-25 (MSG)But they kept at it, a shouting mob, demanding that he be crucified. And finally they shouted him down. Pilate caved in and gave them what they wanted. He released the man thrown in prison for rioting and murder, and gave them Jesus to do whatever they wanted.
We are fast becoming a culture of quick fixes. Feeling a little bit down? Take a pill. Worried about that upcoming job evaluation? Take a pill. Got a few aches and pains? Take a pill. None of us like to suffer, either physically or emotionally pain. We don’t like to hurt. We would that life should be pain-free, and when it’s not we resort to medication or other quick fixes to relieve our situation. Sometimes it’s necessary to work our way through the suffering itself in order to come to a place of wholeness.
Emotional health is not always about easing the symptoms, but can also be about learning how to work through the problems that helped create those symptoms. And that can mean for a time passing through the valley of the shadow in our lives. We hear something of that same wisdom in the words of Jesus: “Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).
Certainly this is part of what this season of Easter (Resurrection) is all about. Out of the pain and suffering on Good Friday afternoon comes new life on Easter morning. From what seems for all the world like death, emptiness, and meaninglessness, something new can and does emerge. And indeed, were it not for that pain and suffering of Friday afternoon (Luke 23:44), we would not have Easter Sunday morning. We would simply go from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday without passing through Good Friday.
We’ve all experienced those Good Friday times in our lives. Perhaps we’ve known it huddled under the wet blanket of depression when it feels like we have nothing to live for, no hope, or future. Or maybe we’ve experienced that Good Friday while in the depths of our grief, when it feels like we’ll never know joy or laughter again. Or maybe our Good Friday comes in the form of a crippling anxiety, a worry that simply won’t go away, a fear that we can’t quite put our finger on and from which we can find no relief.
However we’ve known it, Good Friday is a familiar place for many of us. And what do we do when we find ourselves there? Look for the quick fix? Or work our way through the pain, through that valley of the shadow, into new life?
The empowerment word for us is that, while we may pass through those Good Friday times, we don’t have to remain there. We can and do emerge into our own Easter (Resurrection) mornings. No matter how great the pain or how deep the despair, one of the few constants in our lives is change and transformation. The challenge for us comes in learning the lessons of our experience.
It’s not always easy, but it is possible. Can anything good come from depression, or anxiety, or grief, or trauma? It may not seem so when we’re caught in our Good Friday worlds. Sisters and brother I assure you by the power of the Holy Spirit, Easter morning can and does happen for the child of God! Because He lives we can face tomorrow! Have a Great Resurrection Weekend with your family and friends!
For His Kingdom,
Pastor James Baker