We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.2 Corinthians 4:8-10
Yesterday was Good Friday. But amidst all the turmoil this world is going through right now – death, disease, fear-mongering, economic upheaval, hatred, isolation, greed, disunity – how could such a time be considered good? We can throw around all the niceties, well-wishes, and cliché sayings we know, but in reality we cannot know with full confidence whether they are true. No one can know with certainty what tomorrow will bring, nor what events, trials, joys, or pains will come in the next day, much less what the world may look like in the next six months. The world leans on hopes that may or may not be fulfilled, on flawed foundations and shifting sands. How could someone have the audacity to say that this is good?
During our virtual Good Friday service as Pastor Gabriel preached, my mind was brought to 2 Corinthians chapter 4 (one of my favorite passages in the Bible) and I was reminded why Friday, and moreover every day, can be considered good:
It is good because Jesus took on our sins and put upon Himself the wrath of God, so that we would never truly be condemned.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed…
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.Isaiah 53:5
…perplexed, but not driven to despair…
Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.’Matthew 26:38
…persecuted, but not forsaken…
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’Matthew 27:46
…struck down but not destroyed.
But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.’John 11:49-50
Jesus was crushed, he was driven to despair, he was forsaken, he was destroyed by the Father, so that we would never truly be crushed, we would never truly despair, we would never truly be forsaken, we would never truly be destroyed. Even though we are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down, we do not lose heart but look to what is unseen (2 Cor. 4:16-18). We see in faith and hope that Jesus’ dying is our dying, yet his life is also our life (2 Cor. 4:10-11). We see that though we will die – whether by old age, neglect, violence, coronavirus, or another disease – we will also be raised and brought into God’s presence (2 Cor. 4:14).
We go around carrying the death of Jesus in our trials, afflictions, and sorrows. But in so doing, we have an unshakable hope that the resurrection of our savior Jesus will also be ours. And this hope is not elusive, ever-changing, founded on flawed foundations and shifting sands. This hope is founded on what Jesus has secured for all time, and on an eternal, righteous, and good God whose word will be fulfilled. May this hope drive us to have a peace beyond understanding, a joy that is perpetual, and a love that is sacrificial.