“It may be dark now, in the waiting, on Saturday. Dark and confusing and uncertain, huddled in a room hiding from the authorities knowing that Jesus is dead. But we can all rejoice. Because we aren’t going to stay here, Hallelujah, this isn’t the end of the story!! Because. . . . SUNDAY IS COMING!!!”
I can still hear those words from an early childhood Easter week sermon. In my memory they are given with the fervor and emphasis of soulful gospel preacher, pausing for effect and to give the crowd time to murmur an “AMEN!” In reality, my childhood church wasn’t really known for a lot of congregational input – but its possible that we were visiting a community program of sorts, or we had a visiting preacher. It’s also possible my brain has added what it feels like is the appropriate level of drama for the memory.
Regardless, the idea of rejoicing in the truth of the coming Sunday during the Easter season is a true one.
And regardless, it always felt slightly challenging to me.
It’s a weird uneasiness to feel my heart pulling in two directions as we move through this Holy Week. I imagine the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and the pure and humble love of the Last Supper. I sometimes find myself wanting to skip over the true agony and sacrifice of Good Friday, the confusion and fear of the apostles, and get straight to the resurrection. Let’s all agree to jump right from the love to the victory, ok? Let’s not dwell on the dark parts of the story. Let’s get to the happy ending!!
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. The dark parts of the story are necessary for the victorious part. Without the sacrifice, without the pain, there wasn’t a way for Jesus to fulfill what was required to save us.
Good Friday – the brutal beatings, the political machinations, the mockery and taunting, followed by the crucifixion and ultimate death of Jesus? All dark parts of the story, that are absolutely vital to the ending.
But Holy Saturday – the day in the middle; the waiting and despair and brokenness of the apostles on that day speaks to me the most. Can you imagine, to have followed this man for 3 years – convinced of his identity as the foretold Messiah, anxiously awaiting the day that he overthrows the government and puts the Jewish nation back on the map? And then. . .without a fight or even a word in protest – he seemingly gives up, is beaten, crucified, and dies. And you are standing there with every dream and belief destroyed. In fear for your own life, and so very, very confused. And heaven is silent.
Battling with mental illness, can be a lot like living through that Holy Saturday. Repeatedly. Its dark and uncertain and full of fear. Its confusing and overwhelming and often feels as though everything is wrong and may never be right. And it’s so very, very easy to stay there, living repeatedly through Saturday. A form of Dante’s Limbo, routine and monotonous and seemingly without hope. And while the dark parts of the Easter story are required for the victory, I don’t know if the same is true of my story. Is this dark and twisty path somehow a required part for me? I don’t know. I’m not sure.
But, even though the disciples were huddled in fear and dismay and doubt, even then, the grace and love of God was raining down on them as He worked out His perfect plan to save us. I know that sounds extra churchy/Jesus-y for my blog. It feels a little weird to even write.
But oh-so-true. The ridiculous passion of God for us, the love beyond reason that He has for each of us, was poured out on the disciples even as they failed to hold to their belief. And also, on me, even as I fail. Even as I sink into the routine of living in a Saturday, forgetting that Sunday is coming. Even when I let my worries consume me, when I forget that He has called me worthy, when I forget that the web of lies my own mind tells me are in fact lies. Even then.
But Sunday is coming.
Sunday came, actually – the victorious part of the story is where we can find hope even when we don’t feel hopeful. Especially then. And the best news is that Sunday came, even though the disciples didn’t believe, even though they gave up and hid, even though they felt crushed under the fear and defeat.
And Sunday will come for us too. Even if your view is from a Saturday perspective right now. Hold on to hope. Keep going. Even when you are crushed under fear and defeat – hold on to hope. Sunday will come. The abundant love of God, the grace and mercy are there – steadfast and completely poured out for you. Even when you don’t feel it – even then.