Reflections for Holy Week: On Our Mourning Bench

This reflection was originally published in the spring 2020 issue of STILLPOINT magazine: “Generation Gordon.”

By Bridget Hadorn ’21 

Psalm 22 | Hebrews 2:14–18 

After his son Eric died tragically in a climbing accident, theologian Nicholas Wolterstorff wrote Lament for a Son as a means of processing his deep suffering and grief. “What I need to hear from you is that you recognize how painful it is,” he wrote. “I need to hear from you that you are with me in my desperation. To comfort me, you have to come close. Come sit beside me on my mourning bench.” What Wolterstorff recognizes is that suffering isolates. But one of the greatest comforts in our faith is that we are not, in fact, alone; the Triune God sees us and meets us in our deep suffering.

The author of Hebrews highlights this reality (2:17), explaining that Christ was fully human in every way. Christ was not just God with skin on; Christ came and joined our humanity in fullness. God in Christ did not exempt Godself from any part of humanness, including deep physical, social, emotional and spiritual suffering. A quintessential image is seen in quoting a suffering David in Christ’s last moments (Psalm 22; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). Christ’s work on the cross demonstrates a God who loves deeply and is willing to initiate, coming to suffer with us and allowing us to experience relationship with this same God in our present time and space. God came in Christ, meeting us in our deep suffering and taking it onto Christself, giving us access to a God who still comes. God is with us, sitting beside us on our mourning bench.