Encouragement is something that we all need, especially in times like these, and so I pray that in these words you will find encouragement.
There is no record of what Jesus’ disciples did on Easter Saturday, the activity of Good Friday, and the days before, is over and they had no idea what was to come on Easter Sunday. In my head we are living in a drawn-out Easter Saturday at the moment. The activity of our lives before Coronavirus is over, and we have no idea what life will look like when this time of ‘pandemic’ is over. We do know, however, like the disciples did, it will not be the same again.
Living so many years after Jesus’ death, and having celebrated Easter Day, so many times, we know what is coming. We know that unbelievably, the women who came to embalm Jesus’ body, to pay their last respects, found the tomb empty, and Jesus alive. Every part of me longs to fast-forward to Easter Sunday and to cling to the risen Jesus, as Mary did, and to share the good news that we ‘have seen the Lord!’. But today is Saturday and we have to live through Saturday first.
The events of Good Friday changed everything for the disciples. The routines and rhythms of their lives suddenly came to an end. Our Governments press-briefings of a few weeks ago had a similar impact on our lives, and we like so many across the whole globe are having to come to terms with new routines and the impact of ‘social distancing’. When those announcements were made, we lost something, and with loss comes grief and disorientation.
We all react to loss differently. There are those who prefer to ‘carry on as normal’, those who see the ‘bright side’ and the ‘blessings’ even through dark days, and I thank God for people who have this gift as they ‘shine like stars’ against the darkness. There are those who get angry and cry out, those who struggle to make sense of what has happened, and those who, though they try to get on with life, keep finding themselves at a loss as to what to do. For myself, I think I have been through all of these emotions in the last few weeks as we have had to lay down the things of life that we value the most, time with family and friends, church on a Sunday, the freedom to go places and all the impacts of ‘social distancing’. I want to leap ahead to what is to come, but today is Easter Saturday.
When I watch the news and read the stories of how living through coronavirus is changing the lives of so many people, I find my heart broken by the plight of those suffering through its symptoms and my spirit lifted by stories of those sacrificially caring for those who are hurting. So many fear the death that this virus brings, the lengths the governments of this world are going to stem its grip are truly extraordinary, and for once the politicians are making no promises for what tomorrow will hold. In these ‘unprecedented’ times apparently no-one knows what tomorrow holds.
Today is Easter Saturday, and we do know that tomorrow is Easter Day. We know this because the Gospel writers recorded what happened when the God who made this world, and who formed humankind in his own image, came in the person of Jesus. We have hope for tomorrow, even though today is Easter Saturday because God, in Jesus, came to live in our broken and hurting world, came to be, not ‘socially-distant’ but to touch the lives of people.
I am reassured, that even though it is Easter Saturday, that Sunday’s coming because of what I read in the bible. I am reassured that even though there are dark days to live through, God has provided everything I need in his word. I am encouraged that it is okay to cry over the death of a loved one, because Jesus cried at the death of Lazarus. It is alright to cry out in pain, anger and confusion, when we feel abandoned by God, because Jesus did from his cross. It’s okay to try to make sense of what is going on, both on an intellectual and an emotional level because we read how Mary and Martha did this. We read too, the words that Jesus spoke.
So may I encourage you today, and whichever day you read this on, that though today might be Easter Saturday and though Easter Saturday must be lived through, in God’s words we will find the strength we need to live through this day, and others like it.
We all have our favourite passages of scripture that bring hope and remind us of what God has promised. May I encourage you to read them today, and to read them again and again. Today is Saturday, but Sunday’s coming.
Be encouraged. In Christ. Charlie Hart
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”Jesus (John 16:33)