We mourn. We grieve. We are struck by the intensity of what Jesus went through:
Sweating blood in the garden, betrayed by a friend, abandoned by his crew, arrested, falsely accused, convicted of terrorism and heresy, sentenced to death, beaten, tortured, a lamb led to the slaughter, a man murdered by the government and his colleagues: Jesus was nailed to a Roman cross and slowly suffocated in front of his followers and haters alike.
Good Friday was a dark day.
But perhaps that’s the point.
Darkness gets a bad rap. We fear it. We leave the light on all night long to avoid the shadows, to deny the dark its sinister power.
But we forget that a newborn in the womb knows nothing but darkness, and yet it grows.
We forget that a seed is buried in dirt black as night and it's in that place that it shoots forth devoid of witness and light.
We forget that in darkness we sleep, and when we sleep, our bodies and hearts are restored to health and vitality.
We forget that it's under the darkness and cover of bandages that wounds are healed.
We forget that sufferings - the Good Friday’s and crucifixions in our lives - play a transformative role in our human experience.
Joseph Campbell said: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
The Psalmist wrote (Ps 139:11-12 TPT):
"It’s impossible to disappear from you or to ask the darkness to hide me, for your presence is everywhere, bringing light into my night. There is no such thing as darkness with you. The night, to you, is as bright as the day; there’s no difference between the two.”
"Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” (John 12:24-25 MSG.)
It’s not that the Divine banishes darkness and makes everything light. Good Friday itself is a metaphor of how the Divine enters into our darkness with us and stays by our side until the light dawns… until we experience some kind of resurrection. It shows us the miracle of goodness right in the middle of our darkness.
It was in the darkness that Jesus befriended a dying man.
It was in darkness that Jesus declared John and his mother to be family to and for each other.
It was in darkness that Jesus drank the sour wine - he drank the world's bitterness to transform it to grace.
It was in darkness that Jesus cried:
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
To the afflicted, abandoned, addicted, beaten, shamed, abused, heartbroken, bent, diseased; to the sinner, to the abuser, to those filled with hate and greed, to those weighed down with worry and fear; to those who have felt the ache of loneliness and hopelessness; for all those in the dark, Jesus said, “Me too…”
Good Friday is the declaration that darkness is just a part of the story. Good Friday prophecies that in big and small ways, the week that was is still the week that is, and that we can transmute today’s poison into tomorrow’s grace, not avoiding dark, but by going all the way through it.
Darkness is, in its own way, a powerful grace. That's the promise of Good Friday.
So lean in, don’t be afraid of the dark. Enter the cave you fear and find the treasure you seek.
Written by Liz Milani of Pocket Fuel.