Through Prayer, Finding the Good in Good Friday

By Staff Reports

(Victor Valley)–I’ve always wondered: What’s good about Good Friday? In prayer, I found the answer.

I can remember asking my mom as a kid, “Why is it called Good Friday?”

It completely baffled me. I’d gone to Sunday school long enough to know that Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday. He was arrested, put through a trial, denied by his own, whipped, paraded through Jerusalem and crucified, dying after six hours of agony.

What was so good about that? My mom must have given me an adequate response, that it’s a “good” day because if Jesus hadn’t died, he couldn’t have risen. But I don’t think I bought it. Not then. Not now.

As a believing Christian, I find Good Friday one of the toughest days of the year. I have celebrated it in various ways, none too happily. I have sung in choirs through a three-hour service. I have prayed my way through the Stations of the Cross. I have sat in a pew in a church near my office, meditating over the last words of Christ. And I have skipped the whole thing, far preferring the alleluias and flowers and jelly beans and chocolate eggs of Easter.

But I have to admit in my struggles with faith, the shadowy Good Friday moments count as much as those blissfully sunny Easter days (and here in the Northeast, when is Easter ever warm and sunny?). When I pray, it’s the hard stuff that gets me really focused.

A 42-year-old friend dies of cancer. “Why, God, why?” I ask, storming the heavens. A hard-working dad loses the job he was sure he was meant for. “What was that all about?” I wonder. A faraway country gets pummeled by a devastating earthquake. “Have mercy, Lord,” I pray.

This seems to be the paradox of belief. As often as I try for a prevailing attitude of gratitude and joy, I learn more through the tough stuff. No, I wouldn’t ask for misfortune and wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but just as mistakes are supposed to be the better teacher, aren’t trials the ultimate crucible of faith? It can take a wake-up call of incipient disaster to give me a piercing clarity about all my blessings.

That’s how I manage to find my way to the good in Good Friday. Through prayer. Closing out the noise of the world, I ask for God’s help, looking for a measure of peace. Better yet, I can join with others who have much greater concerns than my own and pray for them.

Join me and join all of us here at Guideposts and at OurPrayer. Tell us your prayer. No matter your hardship, no matter your sorrow (and this past year has had its share of sorrows for me), it’s a time to trust in the Lord. Easter isn’t far away.

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