The Divine Dark: Why We Can't Afford to Overlook Good Friday — Erica Barthalow

I grew up in a church tradition (which I still love and appreciate to this day) where Good Friday was not observed. We skipped straight over that dark day in favor of the more rah-rah moment of Resurrection Sunday. Much like my family skipped Thanksgiving when I was growing up and went straight to Christmas. Oh, I’m sorry, there’s a holiday in between Halloween and Christmas? I didn’t know.

My church could have probably quite accurately been described in Sarah Bessey’s words as, “happy-clappy.” Therefore, I assume the darkness and sadness that surrounds Good Friday was not something we felt needed to be acknowledged. Put out the Easter lilies and let’s sing at the top of our lungs about victory, thankyouverymuch.

I’m going to celebrate the fact that Jesus defeated death and sin for everyone for all time

Trust me, I love Easter. I’m going to celebrate the fact that Jesus defeated death and sin for everyone for all time with gusto. Oh no, I’m not giving up on Easter one bit. But currently I’m walking through a season of waiting and big question marks, and Good Friday means just a little bit more right now than it has in the past. I’m finding a much deeper appreciation for that devastating moment on the cross and the hours and days following where Jesus’s nearest and dearest were floundering, and questioning and afraid.

Good Friday and the days in between prove that we have a God that doesn’t just tolerate our emotions, he makes space for them. Unfortunately, there’s no remote control for life; we can’t hit fast forward and skip the parts we don’t like. Good Friday proves it. Even Jesus hoped and asked for another way (Matt. 26:39). He didn’t skip the dark, shadowy parts, and we can’t either.

God doesn’t just tolerate our emotions, he makes space for them

As I flip through the worn, gold-rimmed pages of my Bible and read the account of the moments leading up to such a tumultuous few days for Jesus’s followers, it comforts and reassures me in a deep place, and in a way I didn’t even know I needed right now. The Gospels peel back the layers and show us the raw agony and total confusion that Jesus’ death brought to those who knew and followed Jesus in the flesh. They all experienced momentary lapses in memory, forgetting that Jesus said this would happen and that he would ultimately be victorious. Many gave in to fear and worry about their future. Ugh! I can so relate.

If you too are feeling a little up-in-the-air and unsettled this Easter season, with more questions than you even know how to ask or answer, I hope you’ll find comfort with me in the Good Friday story. The one that doesn’t just give us pretty parts all tied up neatly in a big purple bow, but deigns to reach down into our everyday, messy, confused, and shaky hearts and offer us space to grieve, to cry, to wonder what’s next and not yet have any answers.     

While I ultimately know that Easter is coming and the Good Friday season does end in the most glorious, surprising and miraculous way, I’m learning that this in-between space isn’t so bad when I understand there’s One who is here with me, who walked in the shadows too (and defeated them for me!).

So this Good Friday I’m going to allow myself to feel all the feels, and then I’m going to celebrate on Easter that, in the midst of uncertainty, I have an unshakeable hope and every dark, unknown season will eventually come to an end, even if I can’t see it yet.

P.S. My next book is all about this topic of faithfulness and authenticity in the face of uncertainty. If you’d like to know when that will make it’s debut in the world (and also get fun updates about cool resources I’m loving, book discounts, and the occasional giveaway), then drop your email in the box below!

Keep me updated!

Sign up with your email address and stay in the know.

We respect your privacy. No spam. Ever. That’s gross.

Thank you!

Editor's Picks