I’m usually not a very emotional guy. I haven’t cried in precisely 89 days (which also may or may not be the number of days since my girlfriend left for school in Texas; I’ll check my sources). I would also call myself a fierce optimist. For example, I strongly believe the Diamondbacks are making the playoffs this year, GCU will beat Arizona in the first round of next year’s NCAA tournament, and our culture is in the pre-Christian era, not the post. And, despite having a normal college-kid packed schedule, I tend to live a stress free life, at least until 7:00 pm on Sunday nights when essays are due at midnight. So I’d say I’m a pretty chill, positive guy.
But all of that seems to change for me on Good Friday. I turn into an emotional basket case. I cry like a baby when I’m in private. In public, I brush off the emotion with corny dad jokes. My heart is constantly wrought with sorrow and borderline mourning. I stress about everything. I’m really a tall, awkward mess.
For a while, I’ve felt guilty about these emotions. I’ve heard S.M. Lockridge’s powerful words that Sunday is coming, and I know that Jesus is no longer in the grave, and I know that this means I can have true and total peace. Still, I remain a blubbering mess! Is this wrong?
I’ve come to accept my emotions on this day. I’ve come to realize that what I’m feeling is not in response to the thought that my God died, but that I killed him.
Sometimes, we as the church deny ourselves the opportunity to feel the pain that fact causes. Jesus died, not only for me, but because of me. His sacrifice was needed because of my rebellion. Spiritually, I am directly culpable for the murder of the Son of God.
I don’t want to rush to “He is risen.” I don’t want to skip the mourning and cut right to the banquet. Because, the truth is, this mourning makes Sunday so much sweeter.
Jesus’ resurrection isn’t only a declaration of victory over death; he declared victory over my sin that killed him. Sunday is a joyful day because today is, in part, a sorrowful one.
Ultimately, I’ve found that this sorrow has led to a stronger sense of freedom. One of my favorite worship songs repeats this phrase throughout the chorus:
“Never been so free
Caught in Your love for me
Never been so secure
Knowing Your heart Lord”
To realize my part in Good Friday is to realize the depth of God’s love. Jesus wasn’t a religious martyr. He didn’t die tragically for a cause that was bigger than himself. He didn’t give himself up for someone who deserved his sacrifice.
He died so that we may live.
So, I’ve decided to embrace mourning for one day a year. I want to realize my total brokenness and desperate need for a savior. In my experience, it’s only then that I can in turn feel true joy. Another song by the same band, Housefires, says it best:
“There’s beauty in my brokenness,
I’ve got true love instead of pain,
There’s freedom though You’ve captured me.
I’ve got joy instead of mourning.”