The impossible had happened. Jesus, the One they had followed for three years, the One in whom they had put all their hope, their friend and rabbi, Jesus was dead. The past days had been exhausting, grueling. The disciples witnessed Jesus troubled and sorrowful, led away without a struggle. As they all fled, did they hold out hope that somehow it was all going to turn out alright?
When did it begin to settle in that this was really happening? That there would be no rescue? Were they hidden nearby as the nails were driven into their Lord’s flesh? Did they creep close after He was already hung up high? In the blackness when all the earth – all the universe? – stopped, what were they feeling? Still some small flicker of hope that the One who had healed others would, in fact, save Himself?
And then, the cry from the cross. “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Had God left His Son? “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” One last gasping breath, and then… nothing. Nothing. Nothing but a spear thrust into His side, water and blood. Jesus was dead. Could the disciples even breathe?
The day after Jesus died was the Sabbath. God not only chose the general period of time in history when Jesus would die, but the precise year, month, day. Does the actual day of the week have any significance? Does it matter that the next day was the Sabbath?
God had set aside the seventh day as a day of rest. As a Sabbath to come away from the regular busyness of life and refocus on Him. To celebrate not only His good gifts, but Him. To cease striving and recall that God is God. Did the disciples recall those things on that bleak, black day? Do I?
What do I do when everything suddenly seems to stop? The prayers are not being answered, the sickness continues, the strife intensifies, God seems to have withdrawn? When things are grim and horrid in my life, do I take time to worship God?
I’m ready for Easter. I’m always ready for that bright, shining day, filled with joy. But, perhaps, today is a day of a different kind of joy. Joy not in circumstances, but in the fact that despite all evidence to the contrary, God is with us. Not even because “Sunday’s a-comin’”, but joy because God is God.
In my eagerness to get to Easter, am I missing something significant in this day of little hope? Please don’t hear me minimizing the Resurrection! Jesus has arisen and everything has changed. In that event is all our hope. But, Jesus waited. And, for one full day, the world waited, too. I believe that there is something to learn in this.
There are lots of things I am waiting for right now. Release from personal pain, justice for those who are persecuted, freedom from lives trapped in sin, the groaning to turn into shouts of jubilation. On this day in-between the crucifixion and resurrection, what is God’s invitation? Because I believe He is inviting us to something.
Maybe it’s as simple (and difficult!) as taking all my fear, all my pain and confusion, and giving it to God. Trusting Him despite the bleakness. Experiencing His presence with me in the waiting. Recalling His loving and powerful acts throughout history. Throughout my own history.
Friends, Sunday most assuredly is coming, but God is with us in this day, too. On this day between days, hear His assurance that the God who sees you, knows your heart. Knows what you are waiting for. Through Jesus, though we are hard-pressed, we are never abandoned. Draw close to Him, bring Him your pain. Allow Him to minister to you in it.
And then, worship Him. Worship Him today, the day before the Resurrection. I believe in this ‘day before’, He will meet you. He is God. In our waiting, He is still God.