I am writing this post on Holy Saturday, a day that is engulfed by the anguish of Good Friday the day before and the victory of Easter the day after. On Friday, I began to see tweets and Facebook posts that triumphantly declared, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!” I saw one tweet from a famous author that said, “Day turned to night. His friends scattered and death thought it had won. But heaven just started counting to three.” See Tweet.
Look, I understand what we are trying to do. We know Jesus wins. We know there is an empty tomb, and we don’t want to dwell on the darkness before the celebration of the moment when we declare, “Up from the grave he arose!” Our rush to Sunday has always bothered me though, and it bothers me even more as someone who suffers from chronic illness. The rush through Holy Week feels like a microcosm of a society-wide tendency to refuse to sit with grief and the refusal to sit with those who have no choice but to experience it.
We need to slow down and absorb the profound despair and grief that engulfed the first disciples when their Messiah and friend had been publicly executed and his body put away behind a sealed tomb. We need to remember their fear as they hid from dangerous authorities and had no idea what was next. At the very least, we need to experience these days leading up to Sunday so that we can cultivate a deep sense of empathy for those who are experiencing their own battle with despair, fear, and hopelessness.
I am not suggesting that we act as if the resurrection has not happened. I couldn’t live a day denying the risen Lord. No, I am suggesting that we slow down enough to appreciate the price that was paid so that we could have the hope we celebrate on Sunday. And I’m suggesting we use these moments to lean into our own suffering and fears so that we might better understand ourselves and others.
Another tweet I read summed it up well, “Don’t use Good Friday to anticipate Sunday. This isn’t Advent with pregnancy giving us hope of a new beginning. If we look past Friday we leave thousands of hurting people on the margins, unheard in their despair & dismissed as too negative in their grief.” What he said about Friday goes for Saturday too. See Tweet.
It is good to consider why God waited until the third day to raise Jesus from the dead. He could have raised him sooner. Perhaps, God just wanted Sunday to be the day. However, these intervening days are given as grace to those who are hurting or grieving. Grief and pain are not ungodly. They are our companions in this life, even as we await the final resurrection, even if we often act like we want to forget.
P.S.: If you are reading this on or after Easter Sunday, here’s a post that fits better for that occasion