Do you remember the first time someone explained to you the concept of “Good Friday?” I remember my own mother explaining how it was possible that Jesus’ death was “good,” not because torture and suffering were good, but because his death enabled us to live in communion with God. The “goodness” of the day comes from a theological conviction, that Jesus’ awful death was not good in and of itself, but because it pointed to a deeper and more foundational reality…that “by his wounds we are healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
In other words, God is able to take the worst humanity has to offer and can redeem it. But what if this idea of God’s redemption can transfer to our own stories and lives? You don’t hear it often, but what about our “good cancer,” our “good divorce,” or our “good firing?” If God can redeem crucifixion, is he not capable of redeeming the crises and traumas of our lives?
I’ve thought for some time that a deep mature faith in God makes it possible for us to see circumstances differently than our natural, fleshly self is capable of. Now, I’m not suggesting that the next time a Christian tells you they’ve been fired, or a friend shares a cancer diagnosis, that we ought to tell them this is a “good thing.” That won’t be possible in the time right after these events take place. But over time, as those going through such experiences begin to heal and reflect, perhaps this is the time to consider what might be “good,” even in the excruciating pain.
I have a friend whose wife left him, along with his daughter, for another man, who happened to be a good friend. When it first happened, the only humor he could muster was comparing it to a country song. But, over time, as he healed, I began to see noticeably different traits in him. He was physically healthier than I had ever known him, but more profound was his overall, spiritual and emotional health.
One day, he told me this was the healthiest he had ever been in his life. From the test of my own eyes, I believed him. Telling him that his wife abandoning him and his daughter was “good,” right after it took place would have been the height of carelessness and stupidity. But some time later, six months to a year, and I’m pretty sure he would give a hearty “Amen” if I said his divorce was “good” in the same way the day we remember Jesus’ death was “good.”
As excruciating as the experience was, on the other side of the healing is God’s goodness, redemption, and sometimes even restoration. So may we too be a people who can see the good in even the most excruciating of circumstances .
1. Did you know the word “excruciating” derives from the word “crucifixion?” And the point of this post is that even the most excruciating experiences can be redeemed with time and God’s healing power.
Stuart Strachan Jr. is an ordained Presbyterian Pastor as well as the founder and lead curator of the Pastor’s Workshop. He loves preaching, teaching, and helping churches cast vision for what it means to follow Jesus in the 21st Century. He has served churches in a variety of capacities in California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Washington.
Stu is married to Colleen, who currently serves as a spiritual formation lead at Compassion International in Colorado Springs. Stu and Colleen have two children (Jack and Emma) whom they love deeply.
In his free time, Stu enjoys gardening, golf, reading a good book, and watching baseball.
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