A Friday Called Good
It wasn’t so good for those who first experienced it. There was confusion, denial, anger, and despair. But now, in retrospect, we can see that goodness was dripping all over that day. At first glance, we never see the redemptive purpose in suffering. It is seemingly beyond us to consider that the horrific might actually be “good” in some sense.
So, what is “goodness”? What does it mean that something is good versus bad? The question itself is part of the problem we face. We tend to define things in black and white terms. Things are either this or that. People are either in or out. We perceive either love or hate. Polarities are helpful at times but they can only get us so far in the real world.
Most of life is a mixture of such polarities and requires a kind of navigation that reflects this reality. When we lose a job or a relationship, it hurts and at the same time it may have goodness all over it. The hurt, the shock, the confusion can push us into seeing only part of the story. Our initial, impulsive responses to most of life are geared toward the quick categorization of things as good or bad. It is with a slower response that we can perceive and enter into the complexities, and therefore appreciate the good that can be found in all things.
The sainted Carmelite nun, Therese of Lisieux wrote, “All is grace.” This came from a young woman who spent most of her years sick and died at the young age of twenty-four from tuberculosis. She saw all as grace because no matter the situation, God was present and offering Himself in love.
So, again, what is good? In the purest sense of the word, God alone is good. Jesus made this very clear in Mark 10:18 when He responded to the rich young ruler by saying, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” He proceeded to challenge this man to letting go of all his earthly possessions (something that didn’t seem good at all) in order to have “treasure in heaven” which is God Himself (something that is very good, indeed the epitome of good).
In Micah 6:8, the statement is made, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Goodness? Put simply is to walk humbly with God. It is look for God and at God in all situations. In the worst of situations, He is present and available.
As we consider this Friday in which Jesus died, it is wise to view it as the horrible day in which the God of the universe suffered a cruel, torturous death. It is important to feel the horror and hold close the scandalous nature of what happened. Then, in the pain and the suffering, look to God and see the goodness, experience the grace of a God who suffered so that we would always be able to experience that “all is grace.” Because of Jesus’ death, we are never separated from Him … and that is very, very good.