On this Good Friday, we reflect on the pain and suffering that touches each of our lives at some point. Be it sickness, loss, or tragedy, these periodic reminders that we live in a broken world are part of our shared human experience. In these moments, it’s natural to ask the question, “Why is this happening to me?” Sometimes, if we’re honest, this leads to our questioning of God—“God, why would you allow this to happen to me or someone I love? Where are you in this?”
Rarely do we receive the satisfactory answers for which we’re looking.
In Elie Wiesel’s post-Holocaust reflection Night, he recounts the horrifying experience of being forced to watch the hanging of some prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp. Among the victims there was a young child. The child, unlike the men, was too light for a quick death, and instead, his body writhed helplessly against the rope as his life was slowly and painfully extinguished.
In this tragic moment, Wiesel heard someone in the camp shout out in despair, “Where is God, where is He?” During the execution, everyone in the camp was forced to walk past the gallows where the child hanged. At the sight of this boy being robbed of life, Wiesel began to weep. He writes about the experience:
“Behind me, I heard the same man asking: Where is God now? And I heard a voice within me answer him: …Here He is—He is hanging here on this gallows.”
Is this not how we should also understand the cross? That on the cross, Jesus, the Son of God, did not exempt himself from the worst human suffering. He allowed sin and evil to do its worst to him, to exhaust and overwhelm him to the point of death itself.
Where is God? Where is He now?
Here He is—He is hanging here on this cross.
We may not have the answers we’re looking for in our distress. But on this Day we remember that even God did not avoid the worst suffering imaginable. In Jesus’ obedience even unto death, he knows firsthand what it’s like. All of it, including the pain, tragedy, and despair we each experience.
You are not alone.
Before we rush to Easter morning, before we seek to resolve the uneasy tension Good Friday creates, perhaps it’s best to sit in this moment. To let the reality of a crucified God fully hit us.
Our view of the world and all its brokenness may not change as a result, but once we’ve seen Jesus hanging on a cross, our view of God can never be the same.