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Good Friday and the final word

Many situations around the world can seem as bleak as that first Good Friday. But darkness didn’t have the final word.

Written by Gideon Heugh | 15 Apr 2022

A cross on top of a mountain in Oberammergau, Germany | Image credit: Webdexter Apeldoorn/Pexels

On Good Friday, it would have felt as though hope itself had died. ‘At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. [Then] Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’). (Mark 15:33-34)

Jesus’ disciples could only look on in horror as their saviour was hammered into a block of wood, hoisted high for all to see; suffocated; spat on; stabbed.

There can be little doubt that parts of the world are covered in darkness today. A brief glance at the news will tell us that. There are so many heartbreaking, gut-wrenching stories that it can be hard just to keep up with it all – and it feels as though all we can do is look on in horror.

The greatest light

Our faith does not shy away from harsh realities. We worship a God who is there in the midst of the pain. We must not look away.

And yet, today we can remember that the darkness that covered the land when Jesus died was not fatal. It was instead a declaration that redemption, not despair, has the final word. On Good Friday, hope was written large across a lightless sky. The greatest darkness was a precursor to the greatest light.

This is not only a historical event that we can take heart from. Jesus’ death and resurrection revealed the pattern of life itself. Good Friday and Easter Sunday are present realities. Darkness, no matter how great, cannot defeat the light; indeed, it often brings it forth – the seed that is buried bursts up from the ground. Redemption doesn’t just have the final word, redemption is the final word.

Let us hold on to that truth as we look out at the darkness that is consuming so many places. Let us nurture the seed of hope in our souls.

Pray with us

‘Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…’ (Psalm 107:2)

It is through storytelling – through sharing testimonies of God at work – that the good news of Jesus has spread so widely throughout the world. Stories are a powerful way in which we can combat darkness – by sharing the light.

As an act of prayer, read the following three short stories. All of them begin with darkness – with poverty, loneliness, and a feeling of hopelessness. Yet they do not end that way. As you read them, prayerfully commit whatever is weighing on your heart to God. There is a suggested response you can say at the end of each story.

Dishonoured, then dignified

Kossie now owns a successful business | Credit: Jonas Yameogo/Tearfund

Kossie lives with a disability, and uses a wheelchair to get around her village in Ivory Coast. She had no way of making an income, and had to borrow money so she could eat. Some of her neighbours would laugh at her. ‘I felt ashamed,’ Kossie says, ‘because I couldn’t get the means to pay them back.’ However, Tearfund’s local church partner supported her to start up her own business selling cotton wool.

‘Formerly… I was painfully living on my own,’ she continues. ‘My situation has changed. I get money for my needs, and no longer call on people for loans.’

Kossie knows her true strength and worth, and has been able to lift herself out of poverty.

Lord Jesus; thank you that you take us from darkness to light. We pray for all those who have felt lonely and ashamed – may they find the embrace of your love and freedom to flourish. Amen.

Dry lands brought to life

Antônio works the land on his organic farm | Tom Price-Ecce Opus/Tearfund

Without access to water, there is little hope for the people of the semi-arid regions of Brazil. Antônio began working the land with his father when he was a child. After saving for years, he was able to buy his own land. But the lack of water made it difficult to produce enough food. ‘Life was very hard,’ Antônio tells us. ‘To make it even worse, my father was dominated by alcohol.’

One day he was at a meeting in the nearby town and met Pastor Robério, who offered to help him. Pastor Robério’s church worked with Tearfund’s local partner to install a new irrigation system on Antônio’s land. Now it is a fertile oasis, producing organic fruit and vegetables not only for the local markets, but also for local schools. ‘If we look back to see how life transformed… the water changed from water to wine,’ Antônio says.

Lord Jesus; thank you that you take us from darkness to light. We pray for all those who feel their situation is lifeless – may their lands burst into life. Amen.

From tragedy to peace

The Rohingya refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh | Ralph Hodgson/Tearfund

Rosida, 19, led a difficult life in Myanmar. As part of the Rohigya people, she and her family faced brutal oppression and violence. Eventually they decided to flee on foot to Bangladesh. It was a four day journey, and some of her family and neighbours were shot and killed. In Bangladesh, Rosida lived in a refugee camp: ‘We had nothing to survive ourselves,’ she says. ‘New country, new place, many problems. All of these things made me worry a lot.’

But then Rosida met some staff from our local partner. After sharing her story, Rosida was invited to join a sewing course that our partner had set up. She was also given mental health support. Now, for the first time in a long time, Rosida told our local partners that she finally feels at peace.

Lord Jesus; thank you that you take us from darkness to light. We pray for all those who have experienced tragedy in their lives – may they find peace and new beginnings. Amen.

The final word

Think of a situation in the world that has been weighing on your heart. It could be Ukraine, Yemen, the climate crisis – whatever you feel God prompting you. Allow yourself to acknowledge the darkness that is there.

Then, out loud if you can, say the following: Jesus is alive. Darkness is not the end. Redemption has the final word.

Now, think of a situation in your own life where there might be darkness. Again, allow yourself to feel the heaviness there. Then say again: Jesus is alive. Darkness is not the end. Redemption has the final word.

Happy Easter from everyone at Tearfund. To celebrate Easter, we’ve put together a short film for you, featuring a poem by poet and Tearfund writer Gideon Heugh and art by Sara Sherwood. Watch the video and take a moment to reflect on Jesus – the Light of the World.

As you listen to the words, may you know the reality of the risen Christ in your heart. May Christ’s love, peace and hope rest upon you and your loved ones, now and always.

Written by

Written by  Gideon Heugh

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