Dear Hope Community,

A colleague recently focused me on the side of the Easter story I am usually too quick to skip over: Jesus’ suffering. The injustice He faced. His death. 

Emotionally, it’s easy to jump to resurrection Sunday and the joy of Easter morning. But the suffering Jesus endured is a vital part of the story.

Perhaps the suffering side of Easter should take on new meaning for all of us this year. The suffering our world has endured over the last twelve months has been undeniable. And Easter tells a story of the God we serve who suffers with us.

On Good Friday, we see a God who suffers first-hand from the grief of losing a loved one – His only son. Many of us have lost loved ones during the last twelve months. Hope College has lost two of our own colleagues: Dianna Machiela in Human Resources and Dr. Jenny Hampton in the Physics Department. Easter depicts a God who knows the pain of loss and endured it Himself. 

The Easter Story also shows a God who is the victim of injustice and oppression. The Old Testament says that God identifies with the poor and oppressed (Proverbs 14:31). The New Testament — especially on Good Friday — goes a step further: God becomes poor and oppressed.

Jesus, the King of Heaven, was born to a poor family in a dirty stall. He was ridiculed, beaten, endured a trial that was a miscarriage of justice, put to death, and buried in a borrowed grave.

Our nation is wrestling with legacies and stories of oppression and marginalization. As the body of Christ, we stand together and lament together.  What’s more, Easter reminds us that no other religion in the world worships a God who Himself was the victim of oppression and marginalization.

So this year, as we celebrate the joy of resurrection Sunday, let’s not forget the suffering of Good Friday. And let’s remember that we serve a God who suffers with us.

Spera in Deo.

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