Holy Week Devotionals Day Six:
The Silence of Certainty
And we know that for those who love God
all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.
Holy Saturday is one of most important moments of Holy Week. Sure, I love the Palm Sunday Hosannas and rejoice each Easter with the emergence of Resurrection Life. But Holy Saturday speaks most directly to the daily reality of our lives. After the shock of death or words that bring despair in our lives (such as "cancer," "divorce," "terminal," "sorry, but we have to eliminate your position"), we begin living with the "what next" questions as we enter the void of unknowing. For the first followers of Jesus, this is exactly what Holy Saturday felt like.
Most of us also live, from time to time, in Holy Saturday moments. We experience the jubilation of Easter and the stark pain of Good Friday, but those are immediate and momentary. Holy Saturday is the time in between death and resurrection, fear and hope, pain and comfort. Holy Saturday is the valley of grief and uncertainty, for us and for Jesus' first disciples. On Holy Saturday, we don't know what the future will bring. We don't know if the cancer can be cured or if we will love again or find the position that fulfills our vocation. It can feel lost and hopeless.
It is difficult for us to experience the full weight of Holy Saturday during Holy Week. After all, we've read the story; we know that there's a happy ending—resurrection and new life! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! This luxury wasn't available to Jesus' first followers. All they had was the hope that somehow their Teacher and Savior would live on in their hearts and imaginations.
But we can still share the journey of these first Christians. We can and should take some intentional time on Holy Saturday, spending time in prayer and reflection. In the interplay of silence, scripture, and journaling, consider the following as questions for spiritual reflection:
What is open and uncertain in my life?
Where am I grieving? What losses am I living with?
What are the "what next" questions in my life?
How am I living with uncertainty?
Where am I experiencing God in the interim time?
Perhaps, put yourself in the shoes of one of the first disciples on Holy Saturday—Peter, Thomas, Mary of Magdala, Mary or Martha of Bethany, Jesus' mother Mary. Visualize yourself as one of them: see your life situation in light of the cross, feel your loss at Jesus' hideous death, feel your sense of uncertainty, feel the unknown that lies before you. Let your imagination burst forth in possibilities.
Take time to pray your uncertainties, lifting them up to God for comfort and guidance, knowing God is with us in the wilderness.
Life is often a time of Holy Saturdays with no resurrection in sight. Like the "valley of the shadow" of Psalm 23, we can train our senses and heart and mind to experience God's Spirit in the darkest times. We can gain sympathy for those persons who are struggling as we face our own Holy Saturday struggles. While our resurrections are uncertain—our successes still in suspense—we can listen for God's voice of companionship, care, and counsel as we live the uncertainty of Holy Saturday.
As we think through and reflect upon the meaning of Good Friday, pray:
That God would focus your mind on the love that Jesus has shown to sinners like us.
Thank him for his mercy and grace that we do not deserve.
Ask that, through the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit, you would never become numb to the sacrifice of Christ on your behalf to show his love for you.
Also, as we focus this week on what Jesus has done to bring salvation to his people, take this opportunity each day to pray for someone who does not know the Lord and ask God for opportunities for you to share the gospel with them.