Waiting in the Silence
I can hardly begin to imagine what must have been going through the disciples’ minds on Easter Saturday. The man with whom they had shared their lives for three years, who had claimed to be the Messiah for whom they’d been waiting, upon whom they had placed their dreams and expectations, had suffered an excruciating death and now lay in a tomb. And with him lay their hope.
The question of why bad things happen to good people is immense and difficult. Still, across the centuries, God’s people have drawn a sense of comfort from knowing that God is with them, even in the pain.
Easter Saturday is a day full of questions and disappointments. It stands in the silence between the despair of Friday and the hope of Sunday. The disciples on the road to Emmaus were forced to re-evaluate their whole worldview and their faith in God’s purposes. ‘They stood still, their faces downcast’ and said, “Jesus was handed over to death and crucified, but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:17, 20-21)
It is important that we learn how to handle times of silence.
King David wrote this in Psalm 37:
Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither […]
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes […]
Those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. (Psalm 37:1-2a, 7, 9b)
These verses are not theoretical, written from the ivory tower of a blissful and pain-free life. These are powerful words from a man who knew a thing or two about disappointment, evil schemes and the frailty of life.
Hope in the moments of silence is not always easy, when resolution doesn’t seem obvious or attainable. In Psalm 16, David wrote, “You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay” (Psalm 16:10), but as Peter reminds us David most definitely did die, was buried and has decayed! In this we learn a valuable lesson, that David’s hope was not in vain, and that God works through even the most hopeless situations. Peter continues,
“David was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay” (Acts 2:29-31)
It’s easy to see it now, with the gift of hindsight, but even as Jesus’ body lay in a grave, having cried out only a day earlier “My God, why have you forsaken me!” (Matt 27:26), God had not abandoned him. It was all part of his plan for the healing of the world and the rescue of mankind.
God doesn’t work in predictable ways. The Apostle Paul marvels at the apparent illogicality of the cross, saying,
“We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for it they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8).
When wisdom seems hidden, God is at work. In the darkness and gloom of Easter Saturday, trust in God. Sunday is coming.