Written by Justin Lee

Honestly, even when you know the story, it seems weird that we label as “Good Friday” the day our faith’s founder was murdered—executed as a criminal on trumped-up charges, following a period of extended torture and humiliation at the hands of his enemies. “Good” Friday? Really? Are we nuts?

But Christianity has always been about paradoxes: The last shall be first. The greatest must be the servant. The Savior of the world would be not a triumphant political leader but a carpenter with a ragtag bunch of followers.

Jesus clashed frequently with powerful religious leaders, while his best friends were outcasts and sinners. He was “King of the Jews,” but his life was anything but kingly. There was no room for him at his birth, no honor for him in his own hometown, and no dignity for him when he was executed for treason.

All of this resonates powerfully for me as a gay Christian. I know (and perhaps you do too) what it’s like to feel alone, even (or especially) among the religious and respected. I know what it’s like to feel abandoned by friends and family, to be treated as an outcast, to be tempted to want to take it all back for a chance to fit in.

LGBT Christians know firsthand what it’s like to feel unwanted, even hated, by those who should be our people.

And so there is something comforting about the knowledge that Jesus, too, suffered these things. Whatever pains we’ve experienced—being misunderstood, maligned, treated as outcasts—Jesus experienced far more. The one we follow knows our pain firsthand.

But at Easter, there’s something even more comforting. Because the story doesn’t end with Jesus’ suffering. Jesus was ostracized, jeered at, tortured, and put to death—and then, on the third day, he rose again. God was faithful, and God took what seemed to be the worst thing that could happen and turned it into the best thing that could happen. God used that pain and suffering for our redemption and ultimate salvation. Jesus was treated as a criminal, but then he was exalted for all eternity.

It is because of Easter that Good Friday is good. Without the Resurrection, Jesus’ death would be a sad and tragic end to a story of a good man who never got his due. But Easter means there’s more to the story. And in Christ’s Resurrection, we’re promised resurrection as well. When we endure suffering, when we are mistreated and misunderstood, when we feel alone, we know that God is faithful and can use the darkest times in our life to bring about good we can’t yet imagine.

So if you’ve been feeling unloved and alone, if you’ve been suffering and feeling like no one understands, or even if you’ve just been struggling to feel connected to your own faith because of the behavior of others who claim to represent it, know this: You are not alone. The one who made you and knows you better than you even know yourself has suffered these things, too, and knows you are suffering them now.

For even Jesus was accused of being in league with the devil by those who claimed to represent God. And for a short time, it seemed that they had all the power and that he had lost.

But then came Easter. And Easter changes everything.

Justin is a renowned speaker and author of Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate and his soon to be released Talking Across the Divide. Read more from Justin at http://geekyjustin.com/