Silent Saturday

 

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. –Psalm 30:5 (KJV)

Today is what I call “Silent Saturday”—the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

As a child I faithfully attended Holy Thursday and Good Friday services. One of the things I remember about this time right before Easter is that no music was played in church. The organ was silent, as were the bells and other instruments. Songs were sung a cappella.

This period of silence impressed upon me the solemnness of the time when God’s Son was betrayed, condemned, crucified, and buried, paying the price for the sins of all mankind from the dawn of creation to the end of time.

I knew, of course, what would follow—Easter! The day Jesus burst out of that Mid-Eastern tomb in all His glory—alive forever! The return of music! The return of hope and joy.

Little, if anything, is said in the Gospels about “Silent Saturday.” For the Jews of that time, it was the Sabbath, a day of rest. A day no work was to be done.

We read nothing of what Jesus’ followers did that day.

We can only imagine what they felt: Grief. Hopelessness. Despair. Terror. If the Jewish authorities could do this to Jesus, who performed all those miracles and claimed to be God’s Son, what would they do to His disciples? So they hid, their dreams for the Kingdom and their places in it shattered, their future uncertain. The plan, they thought, went horribly, horribly wrong.

Or did it?

They had no idea that actually everything was going wonderfully, impossibly, exactly according to plan—God’s plan. They didn’t know they were in the waiting room—not the hiding place—between deep despair and unbridled joy. Between apparent defeat and glorious triumph. Between terror and a holy boldness that would set the world on fire and launch the Jesus Movement.

But, oh! That first Easter morning—who could even begin to describe the wonder they experienced at the empty tomb, the joy at seeing Jesus alive? It was exceedingly, abundantly, above all they could have imagined.

But they didn’t know all that on Silent Saturday.

What about you?

Are you in a “Silent Saturday” time of your life? Are you dealing with grief, loss, bitter disappointment, discouragement, night-long weeping? Are you scraping at the bottom of the empty barrel of hope? Fighting despair and feel like you’re losing the battle? Thinking that your dreams, your future, are sealed up in a tomb of decay?

Hang on, dear one loved by God. Saturday will pass. The night of weeping will end. The Son will burst over the horizon, His rays chasing away despair and flooding your soul with hope and joy.

It’s Silent Saturday, but get ready, Pilgrim. Sunday’s coming.

Thank You, God, for Easter, when hope springs eternal. Amen.

Read and reflect on John 16:16–33.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

The Time in the Tomb

Photo by Tim Reid from flickr.com

 

Stop judging by the way things look. – John 7:24 ERV

Jesus was dead.

What now?

They’d believed He was the Messiah, the Promised One, the Son of God. Divine. He’d healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out evil spirits, fed crowds of thousands with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, walked on water, calmed storms. He was their friend, their teacher, their master, their Lord.

How could this have happened? More important, how could He have let this happen?

His enemies had had the last word. (So everyone thought.)

Now what would happen to them?

I think about that day between Jesus’ death and His resurrection.

His body lay in a cold, dark, dank tomb, buried in haste by a rich disciple who also happened to be a member of the very Council that condemned Him to death. (He hadn’t been present at the illegal nighttime trial.)

His disciples were locked away in an upper room, cowering in fear, wondering if they’d be next. Best stay hidden.

His enemies visited the Roman governor and asked him to post a guard at the tomb, “lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So the last deception will be worse than the first.” (And by getting the guard, they proved that the disciples could not have come and taken the body. Ah, I love how God works!)

Yes, the time in the tomb was bleak. The disciples’ dreams of a Messianic kingdom were gone, bled out by the nails that pierced His hands and feet. The last shred of hope pierced by the spear that plunged into His side as He hung on the cross.

But all was not as it seemed.

It never is, is it?

We cannot see what God has in mind. We can only trust that He’s got this, and He knows what He’s doing. That eventually His plan and purpose will be fulfilled. We just have to wait it out.

Wait and pray.

Wait and hope.

Wait and fluctuate between fear and faith. Between despair and hope.

And waiting is the hardest part. It tests our faith, runs roughshod over what hope we’re left clinging to. It stirs up doubt. Does God really care about little me? Is He ever going to make something good happen?

But it’s in the cold, dark, dank tomb that our faith, through trial and testing, strengthens and grows. It doesn’t grow in the good times, when euphoria and adrenaline feed our emotions.

Faith isn’t about emotions, is it?

Faith isn’t about what we think, is it?

Faith, to paraphrase a favorite quote, is like driving at night in the fog (or heavy rain). You can only see as far as your headlights’ beam, but you can make the whole trip that way.

Laverne enjoys a grandchild seven months before her accident. (Photo taken by James Hooks. Used with permission.)

My friend and sister-in-Christ Laverne has lain in a coma since a speeding car hit her and sent her careening headfirst onto the pavement over Labor Day weekend. For seven months friends have prayed for a miracle.

I prayed. But, like the disciples, I doubted. Seven months of nothing. Her time – and our time – in the tomb.

But a few weeks ago a thought came, unbidden: “Wouldn’t Easter be the perfect time for God to bring this precious lady of faith out of her tomb?” I pushed it aside. After all, look at the facts. Even the doctors said there was no hope. And even if her body survived, her mind wouldn’t.

But yesterday I got a message from her husband: “Today Laverne was alert, with one eye open, squeezing my hand. Actually moved her hand sideways. When I got there, the nurse that shifts her position said Laverne was actually helping her move. (Never happened before.) Small miracles, slow but adding up. Thanks for continued prayers.”

Shame on me. I’m too much like Thomas. I want to see before I believe. But I have to believe before I can truly see.

Are you in a tomb?

Have faith. Cling to that last thread of hope.

Sunday’s coming. New life will explode out of that tomb.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Amen.

Read and meditate on Matthew 27:57–66

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.