Today is the Saturday before Easter. This day doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It’s one of my favorite days, second only to Easter Sunday, which gets all the glory (as it should). But the Saturday before Easter is relatable. It’s raw. It’s real. It is all about waiting… in grief. And while we wait, Jesus fights.
We’re getting familiar with this waiting. Our world has suddenly changed and is no longer recognizable. We wait for normal to return. Nothing has gone as we planned. Our logical minds tell us the pain of disappointment and chaos of this season will probably lesson in time, we know we won’t be in limbo forever, we know our lives will go back to normal and the uncertainty will become certainty again. Eventually, right? But when? How long?
What now? What do we do now?
I think back to the Saturday after Jesus had died. To his followers and family, he was dead. He said he would come back, but would he really? Was he speaking in parables again? I imagine doubt and fear crept into the minds of his family and disciples. He wasn’t literally supposed to die was he – not in such a terrible way – wasn’t that figurative language? Their future was now unknown. He said he would bring the kingdom of God. He also said this his death would happen, but they didn’t expect it to be so hard, so final, or so real. Nothing had gone as they planned.
What now? What were they to do now?
Their grief was overwhelming: their friend, son, brother was dead in a tomb.
The Saturday before Easter is all about sitting in the unknown, waiting for victory, waiting for everything to make sense again. It’s where we find ourselves now – in between earth and heaven.
And if we believe in Easter, Jesus’ victory is ours. It is finished. We live in the tension of space between death and victory. When will we see victory manifested? In this life? In the next?
We have similar questions about our newly changed world.
The last couple of verses in Psalm 27 say “I would have lost heart had I not believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord. Be of good courage and he will strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.” These are my favorite verses in the Bible. They have been my compass in life.
There are three requirements in the verses. First is a belief that we will see the goodness of God in our lifetimes. This belief leads us into a daring kind of hope. And the second and third, a directive to be courageous and wait.
Hope, courage, and patience. None of those come easy, do they?
I went on a women’s retreat a few years ago where I had a refreshingly beautiful conversation with God. I found a quiet place by myself outside near some cabins in the mountains. The night was chilly with clouds covering most of the stars, except a small window illuminating Orion, Vega, Saturn and a portion of the magnificently bright Milky Way. Over a period of about an hour, Jesus and I had a nice and easy chat about the stars, the wonder and awe of the universe, and life. We had the normal back and forth of a conversation you would have with a friend. But this was an invisible friend.
During this conversation, Jesus asked me if I trusted him. I told him that I was close to it but couldn’t say yes just yet. Then he asked me to tell him about himself and what I liked about him. Like any honest friend, I told him I thought he was ridiculous (who asks that?!). I also told him he was a genius and he was glorious and majestic and incredibly inspiring.
He asked again if I trusted him. I told him I wanted to. We started watching the stars in the comfortable silence you can only enjoy with a good friend. The beauty was infinite and refreshing. The clouds eventually started creeping back in. First the Orion’s belt disappeared, then Vega and Saturn until the sky was mostly clouds. Before the stars disappeared completely, God whispered “I’m going behind the clouds again. I’ll still be here, but you may not see me. Do you trust me?”
I whispered back “Um, wait. Maybe. No. Ok, yes. I think so. I guess. Ok, I do.” (I have trust issues.)
This conversation sustained me the last several years where uncertainty has plagued every step. He said he would be hidden, so the feeling of darkness and flailing about was to be expected. Some days were harder than others to trust.
Like in the verses, his directive was clear: hope (that he had good things planned for me), courage (to move forward even when the path was hidden and painful), and patience (to listen for his voice even when I couldn’t see). I must be of good courage while he strengthened my heart and I waited.
In the years of waiting, I learned to find peace in uncertainty through hope, courage, and patience.
The Saturday after Jesus’s death, while his friends and family were waiting for something to happen or maybe about to give up, we must not forget that he was busy fighting for us. He was silent and unseen. It looked like all was lost, that he had died and his mission failed, everything was falling apart. What they didn’t understand: he was working in the midst of it. We see it in hindsight, but they didn’t.
Such a mighty battle takes time. His death was for all humanity and he fought for every one of us. His heart and thoughts never left us even for a moment. Even though no one could see it. Even though his friends and family thought all hope was gone. He was still fighting. He was working on rising up from the dead! And then… he did it. He won.
He is still fighting for you and me as we navigate this new, strange season. Though for us the future is unknown, it isn’t to him.
Waiting in a fog is essential to finding abundant life. When the fog descends and we can’t see an inch in front of our faces, we can find beauty and peace in this silence if we choose it.
While we are waiting, Jesus wants to sit and have normal conversations with us. He wants us to get to know him. He wants us to trust him, even if he goes behind the clouds, even if you have a hard time admitting it like me.
Can you trust him in the wait? Can you trust that he hasn’t disappeared but that he’s fighting for you, that he has a plan and purpose for you, that he’s healing your spirit day by day? It’s the Saturday before Easter. He is working. He is fighting for us.
Hope. Courage. Patience.