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by Jared Byas

This is a plea that we not use Good Friday to anticipate Sunday. This is not Advent after all, with pregnancy giving us hope of a new beginning.

It is a day to grow in empathy, to stretch ourselves to understand the original disciples and our dozens of neighbors who do not see Sunday coming. Or, if I may be so forthright, to understand those parts of even ourselves that still do not see hope.

If we look past Friday we leave thousands of hurting people on the margins, unheard in their despair and dismissed as too negative in their grief. One of my great disappointments with the churches I have participated in, led, and even pastored, is that there is no place for Friday. Always wanting to get on to Sunday, while those whose pain is so great that they can’t just ignore it get labeled as negative thinkers, defeated Christians, and bummers to be around.

But on Good Friday we have an opportunity to empathize. To put ourselves in the place of the disciples who did not see Sunday coming but slumped away from the cross in despair. To put ourselves in the place of those of us who still do not see Sunday coming but slump away from broken marriages, failed careers, crippling anxiety – in despair. To reach deep within to sit with those places inside us that happy-go-lucky churches have asked us to keep hidden from view.

It’s there that we relate to the Jesus of Good Friday.

And so today I wrestle with my own atheism, my own hopelessness, and my own pain. And that’s the most Christian thing I can imagine to do.

Jared Byas, M.A.

As a former teaching pastor and professor of philosophy and biblical studies, he speaks regularly on the Bible, truth, creativity, wisdom, and the Christian faith. Tweets at @jbyas