Easter, for me, has always been a great day of celebration. A day of basking in the joy of the resurrection. But this year, it was different.
You see, life has changed a lot for our family recently. Easter 2015, my husband was pastoring a church as he had been for nearly 40 years. Our children and I were deeply involved in his ministry, especially when it came to planning a celebration service such as Easter. The four of us spent much time studying the significance of Easter. We spent many hours reviewing videos and music finding just the right words to make Easter fresh, new and alive. Something that would draw the people into the celebration, helping them realize what God had done for them. By the time Easter Sunday arrived, we were already filled beyond excitement. So ready to share the story and bring people to a closer relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
But this time, it was different.
This time, we found ourselves on the other side of the picture. No longer in ministry, we were now sitting in the pews taking in a completely different view of the celebration. We were not involved in the planning and therefore; though we had read our Lenten Devotions, the excitement was much different.
Saturday before Easter
This time, our hearts felt the sadness of Saturday. Saturday, when hope was lost and followers of Christ wondered, “What in the world would happen now?” Everything that we had spent many years working toward seemed to be for naught.
The blinding darkness of a rainy day enveloped our day. Tears clouded our view and the ache in our hearts kept us from seeing beyond Saturday.
This was our own personal Saturday.
But our church community was held stuck in “Saturday” as well.
That particular Saturday, was to be a joyous day of celebration. A wedding celebration, but instead we were saddened because the young bride-to-be was in a hospital having had a heart attack (at the young age of 35). She would indeed go home to heaven on Sunday. This was not the kind of resurrection Sunday we had been looking forward to.
It certainly did not feel like a time to celebrate.
Possibly, we could now relate to how the disciples may have felt on that Saturday.
Or maybe we felt much like the friends and family that stood around Lazarus’ grave only a week before wondering why did God allow this to happen?
Why did He not come to our aid?
Where was He?
Oh, how we dread being in the dark.
The Light is always preferred to darkness.
We want to be able to see what is going on; to have at least a little bit of control of our situation. But the only way that our faith can grow is in the dark. Like a seed that must be planted in the cold, dark ground and remain there for days in order to sprout and come to life.
On Easter, we like being the one outside the grave, anticipating the resurrection. Watching and waiting, in the light. In the light, we know what’s going to happen. We know the end of the story and we can wait with anticipation.
But oh, it’s another thing to allow God to place us in the darkness to wait there.
We can’t see what is happening, so we resist the dark. We get claustrophobic and resist the plan God has for us. Why can’t we understand that God places us in the dark for our own good? Sometimes, it is for our own protection because He loves us. He wants us to know we can trust Him in the darkness.
Come. Think about Lazarus and his friends with me
- Lazarus’ and his sisters were close friends of Jesus. (John 11:3)They loved Jesus greatly and He loved them. They spent much time together whenever possible. Just as we, as Christians, can have a wonderful relationship with our Lord. We have lived for and with Jesus maybe for years. We love Him and we serve him expecting his blessings. But there is much to learn and the place to learn it is quite possibly is in the darkness of a Saturday.
- Jesus stayed away so that God could be glorified. (John 11:4) On Saturday, in the darkness, it may feel that Jesus is not there. And we wonder why does He not come to rescue us? Sure Jesus could have gone to them immediately and healed Lazarus. But how long would that last? How quickly would Lazarus and his friends have fallen back into the daily routines of life? Would their faith have been stretched? Would they have really grown to a new spiritual level? I think not. They had seen many miracles of healing and for Jesus to perform another miracle of healing would have only been par for the course. To raise Lazarus from the grave after 4 days ….. Now that would and did bring great glory to God because the impossible had been accomplished.
- Jesus stayed away so that the disciples could have a greater faith. (John 11:15) The disciples, Lazarus and his friends would soon need great faith. Jesus was just one week from going to the cross. They would need a strong faith to get through this trial. They would need great faith to hang on through Saturday. Maybe, if they had not just seen Lazarus raised up, they truly would have given up hope and lost all faith before Sunday came and God raised Jesus from the grave. Maybe, it is what got them through their next Saturday.
Imagine a surgeon, if you will. If he were to take you to surgery and allow you to be awake for the procedure, most of us would not allow him to touch us. We would fear the pain of it, we would see the surgeon’s knife coming and run away. But when he “puts us in darkness” through anesthesia we remain quiet and still for the work to be done. We, too often, fight against entering the darkness. Why? Because we do not have enough faith in what God will do.
We really don’t have to fight Him, you know.
He really does have everything under control.
He knows what is best.
And when we look back at what he has done, we are amazed.
We celebrate in His Resurrection in a much greater way. And our faith grows to a new level just as promised in James 1
… you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
So, you see. It may be Saturday for you right now, but Sunday’s coming!
Let God do His work in the dark. Have faith.
Expecting Great Things!