Before Hope Returns
By Major Anne Pickup –
“Carrying Hs own cross, he went out to The Place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgatha) . Here they crucified Him…Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary of Magdala went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed.” John 19:17-18; John 20:1
Good Friday-day of death, blasted hopes and broken dreams. Friday, the day the bad guys won by death’s telling blow. Friday, day of darkness, despair and loss.
Easter Sunday-day of life, restored hope and renewed dreams. Sunday, the day God won with a telling blow to death. Sunday, day of light, joy and life.
Two contrasting scenarios, all in the space of three days. The worst day imaginable followed by the best day ever. But what happened on Saturday? Where were Jesus’ family and friends on that in-between day? How did they feel? What did they do?
The crucifixion of Jesus happened on Friday, the day of preparation for the Sabbath. Once Jesus was dead, people moved quickly to bury Him because no one hung on a cross on the Sabbath. It wasn’t until the Sabbath had passed, on the first day of the week, that the women came and discovered the resurrection.
Before hope returned, what did they do with their despair and confusion? God must have seemed very silent and distant. Saturday must have been the longest day of their lives…What did they do with themselves?
I. WORSHIPPED-It was the Sabbath and these were faithful, religious people. They undoubtedly went to the Temple. Possibly worship on this day felt futile and meaningless because nothing they had come to believe and trust was working or made sense. Still, they were in God’s presence, surrounded by His people. Maybe when God seems the most distant and silent is the best time to put ourselves in His presence.
II. WAITED-Sabbath rules forced life to stop. There could be no work for 24 hours, said multiple regulations; therefore the day of preparation was very important. And since they were all preoccupied with the crucifixion it is likely that things were not completed properly, resulting in a long, disorganized, hungry day! I presume they waited out the Sabbath in chaos.
Many of us have experienced a time like this Saturday. All we trusted, believed in and hoped for was lost. Life became chaotic and God was silent. We had no option but to wait.
Waiting is uncomfortable but survivable if we wait biblically. Psalm 37:7 explains how we should wait:
“Rest in the Lord”-implies a quiet, relaxed togetherness based on trust.
“Wait patiently for Him.”-It takes time for God to fulfill His plans in our lives. It takes more time and patience to see how He will work all things together for our good and His glory.
The “Baddest” Friday ever was transformed into “Good” Friday by the events of Easter morning. With the resurrection of Jesus, life returned and hope was reborn. The trauma of Friday was followed by a silent Saturday of waiting. Hope and healing didn’t arrive until Sunday morning.
We all have “Fridays.” And we have all experienced chaotic, confusing Saturdays. Maybe we are living a Saturday right now. If so, hold on! The promise of Easter is that the darkest day will be followed by the light of hope. Knowing this, we wait patiently with a restful heart, remembering, “weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5)