In his book What’s Wrong with the World, the English Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton observed, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” That was in 1910. His point was that what many people criticize about the Christian faith is actually a complaint that they don’t want to expend the effort to actually live it.
This is exactly what today is all about. Today, we are forced to see our God, Jesus Christ, suffering, bleeding, failing, and dying; and we are still expected to trust in Him and to follow Him.
Our faith is not a faith for wimps! Jesus embraced the horror and suffering that we recall today – He entered fully into our humanity and its darkness; He did not shy away from it; He did not run. Instead, “He learned obedience from what He suffered; and when He was made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.”
Good Friday is a stark reminder that our faith is not rooted in “good feelings” or a “nice example.” Instead, it is a challenge to face the difficulties of this world – to face our sinfulness, our brokenness, our darkness – and to trust that God still loves us even in the midst of all that darkness. Christ knew all these things in His own life, and he faced them – difficult as they were – and emerged victorious.
This Christian ideal that we profess is not simply salvation through some “good example” or “pretty words.” Rather, it was “through His suffering [that] my servant shall justify many… because He surrendered Himself to death.” This Christianity is not for the faint-hearted; it is not for the soft. It is for the courageous, for the dedicated, for the faithful.
Suffering will find us. The true test of our Christian faith is whether or not we face that suffering with Christ-like trust and courage. This faith has not been found wanting by countless saints through history, and it will not fail us now.