Saturday, March 30, 2013

Suspended in Saturday

This is the conclusion of my exercises in empathy series.

The Hebrews who followed Jesus were not unfamiliar with their heritage or the rich wisdom sayings of their history. Perhaps, even in their despair, when their world was ripped apart as solidly as the temple curtain had been, perhaps the old words of Scripture echoed a comfort to their questioning souls.

Perhaps through blind grief they could recall those time-tested proverbs, repeated often since their youth: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..."

Or the Psalmist's hopeful tune: "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God."

The words of Jesus himself seemed to lie forgotten in the desolation of mourning. What was it he had said again? Something about rising on the third day. Yet, it seems, only Pharisees remembered his prophecy and procured a guard for Jesus' tomb against the possibility of theft and deception.

I always wondered why the death of Jesus blindsided his followers, even though he predicted in detail his crucifixion and resurrection. Maybe they thought he was still speaking parables to them.

Maybe they only heard what they wanted to hear, which was something to do with deliverance from the current political powers of the empire.

But apparently, Jesus didn't want an empire. And somehow, they had to come to terms with that.

There would be no revolution of swords and clubs and fists. The only blood shed was not of evil men but of the only perfect one who ever existed.

It's sad, but they only understood his words about returning after the crisis was over. After it came true!

How like myself that feels sometimes. I know and experience the truth of God's love, of his presence, of his blessings, of his call. But when I am going through a period of darkness in my life or a particular faith challenge, I seem to be, as Jesus' followers were, suspended in Saturday.

I can easily forget that he spoke blessings over his beloved, words like "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Or "I go to prepare a place for you."

And I forget that his love extends out beyond the men he blessed with those words. The love that has been shared with thousands upon thousands upon thousands with acts of love and mercy, accompanied by words of grace and faith.

That he came to be broken because we were broken. To weep because we wept. To despise the death that claims us all. And to be temporarily defeated by it in order to defeat it.

But Jesus was suspended in Saturday, too. His body still in the tomb. Soaked in the myrrh and aloe that the fearful Nicodemus had bought for him. Wrapped in the linen that Joseph had brought.

We like to observe Good Friday and then fast forward to Sunday like there was no horror and confusion in between.

But God knows. We needed the example of a day for being quiet in the tension. For being still, resting in the wrestling. To know that every conflict in life does not have an immediate solution or resolution. And to be okay with not being okay with it. Because he went there.

We needed to know, that in the midst of the darkness, however dark the darkness gets, there is still a promise. A glimmer of hope. A love to hold on to.

And now I understand. The shroud of endless dark shadow might not be defeated right away. There might be a waiting time. But we can face it with courage.

Because...

the First Day

is about to dawn.

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