Laid to Rest

Some days I don’t believe in the resurrection.

This isn’t some sort of faith crisis or shifting theology. It’s just the truth of life, and if I’m going to be really honest, if we are going to be honest, some days you don’t believe either.

We spend this life in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We live with our families, our friendships, and our faith in a Silent Saturday, a day of waiting. We have been wrecked with grief, knowing the brokenness of the world and the death of God. We have known what it is to see our only hope die and be buried. We know what it is to wait.

Waiting is all we do these days. We wait for our savior to come back and be with us. We wait to see death swallowed up by life. We wait for the kingdom of this world to become the kingdom of our Lord and his Messiah. We wait and wait and wait, and that waiting eats at us, making us ask, “O Jesus, have you forgotten?” It may not be every day that we ask, but we do ask. We all ask. We all wait. We all live in the silence of Saturday between Good Friday and Easter morning.

This is where we faith, where we live. This is where we are asked to believe in the resurrection, and this is the place that belief falters and fails. We grow weary of waiting, weary of hoping. We get consumed with the immediateness of our days and loose a cosmic perspective. It is here that the waiting seems forever, death feels so real, the resurrection just a story, and the coming again just a vague thing that may happen someday.

This is where we don’t believe the resurrection.

Descended to the Dead

Sometimes I think that we are all in the place of the dead, the shrouded place Jesus descended to on that silent Saturday. I mean, John talks about testifying to what he and the apostles saw, touched, knew, and walked with (1 John 1.1), but I’m still just having to take his word for it. I’ve had the gospel preached to me, the good news proclaimed, but people still die, days still suck, and darkness still sits heavy on my heart.

It is a perpetual Holy Saturday in this land.

We are perpetually waiting for the resurrection to become reality for us.

Yet, we do still live. We breathe, love, dream, and desperately try to keep hope. We may be in the valley of the shadow of death, but we haven’t given up the ghost yet, even if we are doomed to wait and wait and wait. Unlike the first apostles, we know that resurrection happens. We aren’t completely crushed, we just can’t always make sense of it. I mean, Jesus rose from the grave, death has been beaten by death, and life abundantly is offered to us.

We just don’t always see it yet.

So we wait.

Does the waiting make our faith grow? Does the waiting make us mature? Is that what the waiting did for the disciples? Is that why we wait and wait to see resurrection now? Is that why we are still in this silent Saturday?

Holy Sabbath Day

Maybe this silence, this Holy Saturday we are in isn’t really about waiting. Maybe it’s more about rest.

See the first Saturday of silence between death and resurrection happened over the Jewish Sabbath, the day of rest for the people of God. While it was filled with grief and broken hearts and fear for the first disciples, it was still a day God had made holy and directed them to rest in his finished work. Even as they grieved, they rested. Even as they feared, they rested. Even as they waited to see what could possibly come next, they rested. Evan as their hope – their Messiah – was dead, they rested.

Maybe instead of waiting with my grief, broken heart, fear, maybe I should be resting instead. Resting in the death of Jesus I was baptized into. Resting in the finished word of the cross and the tomb. Resting in the promise that Jesus did rise from the dead and he will come again. Resting in the good news, in the Gospel.

I may not know how to rest just yet, but I can still learn to rest instead of just wait. For me, this means letting go. Letting go of my expectations of God, my expectations and demands of life. Letting go of judging myself harshly for my unbelieving days, of thrashing myself where I fail. If I am to rest between death and resurrection, I need to let go of so much. The silence of a holy Sabbath day is just the arena I need to step into, to lay down in, to let God do his work in my heart instead of demanding that I do the work of waiting and waiting and waiting. God did work in the hearts of the apostles on that first Saturday of silence. They may not have known the work that was happening, but it was happening. So it is the same with me, with us. Only, we can rest instead of waiting with fear. We can rest instead of waiting with broken hope and broken hearts.

Yes, we will still be broken, and in fear, and hopeless. This is what happens in the interim before resurrection. Yet even so, we are not resigned to simply wait. We are invited to rest in the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, to enter into rest today (Hebrews 3.7-19). See, waiting produces impatience in us. We grow restless and weary and begin to either demand what we wait for or look for other things to satisfy. Not so with rest. When we rest, we receive, we accept, we begin to believe that it is really and truly finished.

Selah

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