Good Friday

Almighty God, we pray You graciously to behold this Your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, Good Friday, 221)
God on a cross: God freely, willingly, humbly on a cross. God experiencing betrayal, malice, evil: God, feeling the problem of pain and suffering, unnecessarily. Or did the love of God for misguided and misled sinners make the cross necessary? Did God's love for us drive Jesus to confront, condemn, and cure the problem of sin, pain, and suffering? Does God understand your pain? Oh yes -- more than you may realize!

Contrary to the notions of some, Dr. Ian S. Markham is correct in noting that there is "no promise in Scripture of a suffering-free life." Moreover, such a promise "would be absurd. We all know that this life ends in death. And we also know that death is associated with suffering."1 But enduring suffering is not a reality that God enjoys watching for human beings; rather, pain and suffering are merely our present reality, and God understands pain and suffering from what Jesus endured on our behalf.

Dr. Markham underscores this truth: "Christians are invited to recognize and live into this reality" of pain and suffering. "Responding to this invitation is part of living authentically. We do not delude ourselves. Life is fragile; living is a precious gift. We know that it will not go on forever"2 in these bodies on this earth and, concurrently, in this present condition. The problem of pain, sin, and evil first had to be reckoned with before we could experience bliss, purity, and honor in a most perfect society.

A Good Friday, then, was necessary before a Resurrection Sunday could take place. In other words, while pain, sin and evil are a reality that we brought about, God took the initiative to fix the problems we caused through a Good Friday death-event wherein Jesus experienced the repercussions of our pain, sin and evil that brings about our own death (spiritual and physical); so that we could, by grace through faith in Him, experience a resurrection and a reconciliation. This is a sad day of rejoicing.


1 Ian S. Markham, Liturgical Life Principles: How Episcopal Worship Can Lead to Healthy and Authentic Living (New York: Morehouse Publishing, 2011), 23.

2 Ibid.


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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.