St Stephen Lewisham
Good Friday 2009




On Good Friday Christians think about the sufferings which Jesus went through during Holy Week. Preachers often remind us about His physical sufferings, the lash, the nails, the spear and the crown of thorns. But on this Good Friday let’s think as well about His disappointments.

Disappointment is one of the commonest and most painful forms of pain. It happens to you, it happens to me, it happens to everyone sooner or later, and probably many times during our lifetimes.

It may be a disappointment about something everyday, like the friend who rings to say they can’t meet you after all; or a deeper sorrow, like the letter which says we’ve failed in the exam we’d so wanted to pass; or, more painful still, finding that our teenage child is on drugs, or pregnant, or in trouble with the Law; or that moment when we realize that our marriage, which felt so good at first, has finally broken down; or being told that the painful surgery we recently underwent hasn’t ‘worked’ – so we’re faced with being a dependent invalid for the rest of our life; or – perhaps most painful of all – giving birth to a stillborn baby.

Disappointment, of course, can always be avoided by choosing to have no hopes in the first place. If we decide to live without hope or expectations we shall never be disappointed; but that choice will turn us into the sort of person whom anyone who tries to love will find it as painful an experience as hopelessness itself.

So consider some of the disappointments which Jesus experienced.

If we ourselves were to be faced with such a series of disappointments, most of us would be moved to cry out, to ourselves or aloud, ‘it’s not fair’ or ‘I want justice’.

But not Jesus: in contrast, his prayer was: ‘Father, forgive them: they don’t know what they are doing’.

Christians believe that those disappointments which Jesus experienced were part of the ‘stripes by which we are made whole’ and that they formed a part of God’s plan to make it possible for the world which He had made to be reconciled to Himself through the sufferings Jesus.

But there is more that we can do with our disappointments than just endure them. St Paul tells us to do something much more positive than that: we can see them as being an offering to God in our prayers for other people. If we pray to God to use our sufferings as well as to listen to our spoken words, for the benefit of those for whom we are praying, we can be sure that He will accept them like the offering He accepted of His Son.

That’s a much better thing to be doing with our disappointments than to be demanding justice, or feeling sorry for ourselves. So on this Good Friday let’s think of all the disappointments we have experienced, both recently and in times long past.

Then let us pray that we may forgive those people who were responsible for making such disappointments happen; and pray for our own forgiveness by God in the case of those disappointments for which we were partly or wholly responsible; and then let us lay them at the foot of the Cross of Jesus as an offering to be taken up by Him in His one perfect oblation of himself by which the world, and ourselves, are being saved.

And let us make it our Good Friday Resolution that every time from now onwards we suffer a disappointment (whether it’s today, tomorrow or next week) we will remember the sorrows and disappointments of Jesus and cry to God for His forgiveness and compassion, rather than His justice.

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