Friday, 10 April 2020

Bad Friday

It’s Day 15 of the Nationwide Lockdown implemented to reduce the spread of the coronovirus that causes COVID-19. And I’m not okay.

My flat is a mess, my kitchen is worse and I spent much of the night and this morning crying. I must have used up at least half of one of those valuable toilet rolls.

I have little reason to feel like this. I don’t have frustrated kids to worry about. My job is secure. We don’t start online lecturing for another week so I’ve had time to process and adjust mentally. I have a lovely spacious flat and the most beautiful green view. I have internet, electricity and running water.

But this Friday is overcast and the lockdown just got extended by 14 days (so there are another 21 to go). I’m separated from my family by a closed provincial border and I’m spending the Easter Weekend on my own for the first time in my life.

But I realised that today, this day we commemorate as Good Friday, is the one day of the year it’s really okay to feel like this.

About 2000 years ago, a small group of disciples of a revolutionary Jewish teacher spent this day in absolute despair and terror. The man they had been following, whom they thought was the promised Messiah, had just been betrayed by one of their own, falsely accused and sentenced to death by crucifixion. It had happened so fast they probably hadn’t even processed it properly. They were so afraid and disappointed that one of the bravest and most outspoken of them denied that he even knew Jesus out of fear he too would forfeit his life. Only one of them was even brave enough to attend the execution. The rest were probably in hiding.

None of it made sense. None of them could see what God was doing and how any good could possibly come of this. They were expecting the coming of the Kingdom of God and freedom from centuries of political oppression. And all those hopes had just been shattered.

The thing was, they could only see the terror and pain of the here and now. They didn’t see God’s bigger plan. They didn’t know that it was wasn’t a literal kingdom that Jesus had come to establish at that time. They didn’t realise that the oppressor he had come to free them from was not political or even physical but the slave-master of sin. It wasn’t the feared Romans Jesus was defeating but that more fearful emperor - Death itself.

It’s okay if this Good Friday feels like a bad Friday. It’s okay if we feel confused, fearful or lonely. God knows and he sees the bigger picture. The night before his crucifixion, Jesus was so afraid he begged the Father if there was any way he could avoid it. While dying on that cross, he experienced loneliness we can’t even imagine. He knows what we are feeling.

But he also knew that God knew what was happening. He knew that something better was on its way. And it was something that would change the world forever.

This isn’t the first Good Friday I’ve spent in tears. 9 years ago I had just received news that meant I probably couldn’t do my Master’s in Oxford. I was confused and dejected then as now, but there was light on the other side. God knew exactly what was happening, and the result was not what I expected.

There is light at the end of this. There always is.

Reflections on that other difficult Easter

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