The Joyful Sorrow of Saturday

“Easter is not an occasion to repress whatever ails you and put on a happy face. Rather, the joy of Easter speaks tenderly to the pains that plague you. Whatever loss you lament, whatever burden weighs you down, Easter says, “It will not always be this way for you. The new age has begun. Jesus has risen, and the kingdom of the Messiah is here. He has conquered death and sin and hell. He is alive and on his throne. And he is putting your enemies, all your enemies, under his feet.”

-David Mathis, http://www.desiringgod.org

As my husband, children, and our new sister in Christ, who is visiting us in Central Asia from Europe, hurried to prepare their things for a day at the beach celebrating Easter with other believers, I held a feverish baby and felt a twinge of disappointment. They were soon out the door with the excitement of fellowship and worship ahead of them. Behind them, I was left in silence and solitude as I tried everything to quiet the crying baby. It really was better this way and I was happy to stay.  The baby is sick and would have been miserable at the beach all day. But of all days, why this day? Living in the Christian minority of a Muslim country, moments of fellowship are sometimes few and far between. As a mother of 4 young ones, sometimes they are even more seldom because there are children and a home to take care of.

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As I cradled the feverish one and sat down in the dark living room, the silence left behind was a bit startling compared to the commotion of before. “It’s Saturday,” I thought to myself with a deep sigh. Yesterday was Good Friday, and tomorrow is Easter Sunday, but today is only….Saturday. My mind wandered a moment back to the events of the death and resurrection of our Savior and all I could think about was Saturday. I also pictured all the beautiful church services commemorating Good Friday and Easter that my brothers and sisters in Christ are participating in back in America. My life looks so different here, especially the lonely Saturday I had just begun. But something in me started to ponder why God put a silent Saturday in between the crucifixion and resurrection so long ago….

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For the followers of Jesus, Friday was traumatic, and Sunday was joyful, but Saturday was just…Saturday. For those left behind, Saturday was silence, broken dreams, perhaps faltering faith, questions, grief, and reeling from the trauma of witnessing the graphic murder of the Son of God. Saturday was a day of enduring. Friday and Sunday are often celebrated with Saturday not getting much recognition. But this day might just be my new favorite. It’s the day that rests in the tension of death and life; of brokenness before healing; of sorrow and joy. This is the day that silence and waiting become developers of faith and hope. Without silence, how could we learn reliance? Without waiting how could we learn trust? If our eyes could see all God is doing, how could we learn to see the unseen? Without circumstances seeming hopeless, how could we learn to exercise the remarkable gift of expectant hope that Jesus has given us?

How many times in my life do I seem to live in a continual Saturday where God seems distant or quiet? Saturday can feel like the enemy’s favorite day to torment but the silence of Saturday is often where faith is forged and mountains are moved. Perhaps your “Saturday” is waiting for pathology reports. Maybe it’s waiting on God’s financial provision. Maybe it’s enduring the grief from a lost loved one.  Perhaps it’s waiting on God to restore a broken marriage. Maybe it is waiting on joy as you feel trapped in the pit of despair. Whatever it is, trusting in His promises and remembering He will never leave us opens our eyes of faith and fixes them forward as we wait for Sunday. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with morning. Saturday was only temporary and while the body of Jesus laid dead in a tomb, God’s plan of redemption was in the process of making beauty from ashes.

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Jesus knew God would not forsake Him to that grave and we need to believe this as well. Silence does not equal abandonment or inactivity. God is always working and Sunday is always coming. God could rescue us immediately from every situation, or even just prevent it from happening, but there is so much we’d miss out on. The Bible is full of waiting moments. Before the sea was parted; before the dead were raised; before eyesight restored; before lion mouths were shut; before prisoners released; before the miracle…came the wait. We could be spared the painful sorrow of the circumstance, but nothing compares to the joy of witnessing God in all His power, glory, and strength as He comes through in His perfect way and beautiful goodness. The coming resurrection is worth enduring the death.

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

Today, Saturday, is so very special and full of purpose. Yes the past may have been traumatic, and today may be a day of waiting, but God is working. His joy sustains, His hope gives courage, and Sunday will be here soon…

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