Today sometimes feels anti-climactic, like a strange limbo tension. Yesterday, many of us stopped to reflect and taste the bittersweet juices of all that is Good Friday in the finality of “It is finished.” And tomorrow, we will gather with our local church bodies to celebrate the “He is risen indeed” that is Easter.
But what about today – the Saturday between death and life?
We have the advantage of being on the other side of it all. We know tomorrow is coming and we know that Jesus is alive. But what do you think His disciples felt/thought/experienced on that very dark day? None of them truly understood or believed that He would, the next day, be alive again. After all, He was the One who had raised other people from the dead – but who on earth was going to be able to do that for Him?
We’re not given much insight as to what transpired amongst Jesus’ followers after He was buried and the tomb was sealed. I have to imagine they started questioning Jesus’ words, wondering if they’d just spent the last 3 years of their lives following a lunatic and a liar. He was supposed to be the Messiah. He certainly wasn’t supposed to die! (Except, He truly was both.)
Do you think they spent time pouring over Old Testament prophecies and crying out to God? Did God answer them? Or did God remain silent? Perhaps the most profound silence in all of history.
Though it wouldn’t have been the first time God remained silent. The Israelites spent 420 years in harsh slavery under the Egyptians with not so much as a peep from God for most of those years. Surely it would have been helpful to hear something from God while enduring such a miserable life. There is also this mysterious 400 years of silence between the prophecies and events of the Old Testament and the proclamation of Christ’s coming to Mary, His soon-to-be mother.
What about you? Have you experienced times in your life when it seemed God was maybe on a coffee break or simply choosing not to return your calls? I know, for me, there have been times when I have been desperate to hear from God, with my ears fully attuned – and yet: crickets. Nothing. No email from God, no message in the clouds, no gentle nudge or reassuring whisper. Just disappointing and faith-shaking silence.
Are You even there, God? Can You even hear me? Do You even care?
Does this sound familiar? Rest assured, you’re in good company. Me, you, the entire nation of Israel, and probably every other believer out there has had to wrestle with this silence at least once.
But is it bad? It sure feels miserable. But I have found that when you are left seemingly alone to wrestle with what you truly believe even when God’s presence is anything but present, you can end up with an even stronger, more-solid faith to stand on. When you trust God even when you can’t hear or feel Him, it is then that you find your faith in Him increasingly unshakeable.
God’s silence never equals His absence.
He is all-knowing and all-present. He is El Roi – the God who sees. And if He chooses to be silent, it is not out of an inability or lack of desire to answer. Rather, it is because He knows that His silence will bring about His desired growth in us.
So how do we survive the silence? We keep pressing into what we have come to know and believe.
In Psalm 16, David writes: I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. (v 7) Night here is not referencing simply when the sun sets and it is dark outside, but rather a darkness that is felt in the soul when God is silent. David is saying that his heart knows God well enough to instruct him even when God is seemingly not answering.
Can you say the same about your heart? When you can’t hear God, when you don’t know what to do – go back to the last thing He said and start there. Lean on the truth that is His word. Keep serving. And most of all, keep believing in Him. He will speak again and when He does, you won’t want to miss it!
Matt Chandler once said in a Q&A session, that during times when God is silent we need to stay in the Word because it is like surrounding ourselves with kindling. Then when the Holy Spirit does decide to blow into our lives, we will then become a holy raging inferno because of the kindling we’ve used to surround ourselves. (This is not an exact quote.)
So on this Holy Saturday, as we await our Savior’s resurrection with baited-breath, let us thank God for His faithfulness even in His silence. And rejoice that He won’t be silent forever!
Sunday. Is. Coming.