Mass shootings. Heightened racism. Violence against women. Global pandemic.
And as if the news stories that galvanize our collective attention aren’t enough, there are the staggering stories that simply aren’t being told, seemingly far too commonplace to warrant our attention: 88 million to 115 million people pushed into extreme poverty in 2020, bringing the total to between 703 and 729 million.
Most years, I’ll admit I can be tempted to skip over the grief of Good Friday to get to victory of Easter Sunday. But this year, I feel like I need it. It’s a welcome respite, a holy invitation, permission to collectively say, “This isn’t okay. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.”
A year ago, many of us naïvely thought the pandemic would be over by Easter. I certainly never imagined we’d be celebrating a second Easter in the pandemic.
Last year, Good Friday seemed heavy with the weight of death as people around the world suffered and died alone due to a horrible virus we were only just coming to familiarize ourselves with.
A year later, there’s been more death than any of us wanted to imagine. Many of us are collapsing wearily at the foot of the cross this year. We’re stumbling into this Good Friday and as we remember Jesus’ death on a cross, we can almost see the world’s brokenness weighing on the shoulders of his broken body: disease, poverty, racism, discrimination, violence, hate, injustice.
On this day, we remember wounds that are raw. Wounds not yet scarred. We remember unjust violence. We remember that our Saviour took the brunt of the world’s brokenness on his actual human body in order to declare, “It is finished!”
If you’re ready or waiting for permission to let yourself grieve the heaviness of this year, I believe Good Friday is a day for you. It’s an invitation to rest, to set down your burdens and make room for lament.
We know we have a Good Shepherd who will lead us through. As we grieve, God provides everything we need. He lets us rest, leads us to peace and renews our strength.
Good Friday is a sacred reminder that our God is not unfamiliar with brokenness, pain and despair. God is intimately familiar with suffering.
Isn’t that a strange comfort, a peculiar hope?
It’s a hope that Compassion children around the world are learning to cling to, often in the midst of unimaginable circumstances. This year, as many families were pushed deeper into poverty due to the COVID-19 crisis, they were able to cling to hope thanks to the presence and response of Compassion’s local church partners.
Our local church partners are intimately familiar with suffering. It’s all around them in the communities where Compassion serves—often some of the most dangerous, unreachable and impoverished communities in the world. But our local church partners also have living hope because of Jesus Christ. As a result, they’re able to respond with hope, love and compassion.
This has been a year of disappointments and despair, pain and injustice. In light of it all, the promise we find in Romans seems so fragile and unlikely.
And yet we do know how dearly God loves us. The Easter story is proof.
So, on this day set aside to remember our suffering Saviour, we hope and grieve. We rest and lament.
And we trust that this hope will not lead to disappointment.
Wishing you peace, blessings and rest this Easter weekend, from all of us at Compassion Canada.
Feature photo caption: Nine-year-old Jani is a Compassion child from Rote Island, Indonesia. Photo by Jake Thomas.
Scripture graphics by Lee Fromm.