"The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment." Luke 23:55-56
No one talks about Saturday.
Plenty has been said about Good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified. A day of anguish and accusations, darkness and defeat. Friday was the worst, darkest day in the disciples’ lives. All of their hopes were dashed, nailed to a cross, buried in a tomb.
And Easter Sunday – we know a lot about that. Jesus alive! The grave empty! A day of joy, hope, and miracles!
But no one talks about Saturday.
Two gospels skip it entirely, as if anxious to leave the darkness behind in exchange for the glory of Easter. But Jesus’ followers did not have that luxury. They had to live through Saturday, with no idea that Sunday would hold a miracle. Luke tells us what they did.
That’s it. They awoke Saturday morning, if they slept at all, possibly angry that the sun dared to rise when their world had ended. They probably spent time together – the women making plans to anoint Jesus’ body. The men slowly finding one another, still hiding in fear, perhaps voicing their regret for the past. “If only I hadn’t run away…I wish I hadn’t denied him…”
But mostly, they rested.
That’s what Saturday was made of. Rest. Reflection. Remembering. Regret. Remorse. And the realization that Friday had changed them forever.
Most of us have experienced a Good Friday moment, when the world as we knew it ended. What was it for you? Was it the end of a marriage? A cancer diagnosis? The loss of your job? A phone call from your child’s school? The death of a loved one? Or maybe a season of financial troubles, or a season of abuse by a parent or a spouse?
My “Good Friday” was March 9, 2009, when I realized that the baby I’d carried for 18 weeks had died. In that moment, my world ended, and I was plunged into the darkest place emotionally that I had ever been. I clung to God, desperate for His comfort and peace.
Then one day it was “Saturday.” The rest of the world went on as normal. Friends were pregnant with babies who lived. Co-workers laughed and joked. But I was stuck in my Saturday of remembering, of wondering if I could have changed things “if only.” Of resenting those who wanted me back to “normal” when I was forever changed, and those who tried to tell me God was still in charge. Of railing at God, my source of comfort, for not protecting me from hurt in the first place. Of reflecting on Scripture, trying to understand how God’s love and power co-exist with tragedy in the lives of His children.
Saturday begins when the worst pain is behind you, but a throbbing ache has taken its place. When the sun dares to shine, but your world is still dark. When the abuse is in the past, but not the hurt and shame. When you are no longer hemorrhaging, but neither are you healed. When the rest of the world expects you to be “over it”, but you’re not.
Where are you? Have you experienced the darkness of Good Friday? Do you feel stuck in your Saturday, not really sure where God is and why it seems he withheld his hand of protection from your life? We, too, can follow the example of Jesus’ followers.
Rest. Reflect. Retreat from the frenzy of the world. Talk with others. Don’t be afraid to ask God the hard questions. And do all of this with an element that the disciples didn’t have.
They didn’t know what Sunday would hold. They weren’t waiting for a miracle. They were just waiting.
But we know that Jesus rose, and just as He did on that first Easter, God longs to move us from Good Friday to Resurrection Day.
When that resurrection comes, it will not erase the past. Easter Sunday did not change the fact that the crucifixion, in all of its ugliness, had happened. His followers would never forget that day. And there was no “getting back to normal” either. They didn’t return to their former lives of following an itinerant teacher and healer around Judea. No, they went forward into their “new normal” characterized by God’s power and presence in a way they had never dreamed possible.
But first, you have to get through Saturday.
I've spent much longer in my Saturday than I wanted to, but I’m also learning to embrace it – the time to rest, to reflect, to remember, even to rail against my Maker. In the process, I’ve learned to trust Him again, and every now and again I get a glimpse of the resurrection power that awaits, when I also experience God’s power and purposes and presence in a new way. Maybe you are there, too, living between the bookends of Good Friday grief and Easter Sunday glory. May you, too, find the rest you need in preparation for his resurrection power in your life.
Father, my Good Friday experience wiped me out. I’ve never hurt so badly in my life. Now it’s “Saturday” and I feel stuck and sad and full of questions that may never be answered. Help me, please. Hold me through Saturday, even when I rail against you. Use my Saturday for your glory. And give me the perseverance and hope to wait for "Sunday" and to trust you to resurrect my buried dreams into something that speaks of your power and presence in my life. Amen.