The week had been eventful. There was a euphoria in the air, strong rumor had it that Jesus was preparing to bring His kingdom to earth. What would eventually be called the Last Supper, was a meal that had been the crescendo to an amazing week. Expectations were off the chart. Excitement and faith were at an all-time high. That was Thursday, but then Friday happened. Faith turned to fear and excitement into astonishment. The unimaginable had happened. Jesus was dead, in a tomb, and the dreams of the disciples are broken like a crystal vase. Fridays are difficult and dreadful. Fridays are filled with hurt and pain. Fridays are packed with accusations and betrayal. Jesus faced all of life’s pain on Friday. Friends betrayed and abandoned him. Accusations were accepted as truth without question. There were emotional and mental attacks on his person, integrity, and character. He was mocked, ridiculed and made a laughingstock by the crowd who had gathered on Golgotha’s hill. The physical abuse he has endured was beyond imagination and more than anyone should ever face. As He hangs on Calvary, death will be a blessing. The pulsating pain running through his hands and feet are surpassed only by the throbbing agony brought by the thorns that are penetrating his brain. Every breath is torturous as his back, plowed open like a spring field, rubs against a cross that feels like sandpaper. The sky is now dark, his friends and family all gone, save his mom and John; death is but moments away. With one last breath Friday will finally be over. We all hate Fridays. Fridays when sickness, disease, and cancer ravages a body, death visits our family or a friend. We abhor Fridays when we’ve made terrible decisions, when divorce visits our marriage, and when we’ve been betrayed, mocked, or we are the recipient of ugly and untrue gossip. We hate Fridays when we did our best, but our children still turned from God. On Friday, sunsets can’t come fast enough, and the darkness of night will at least signal an end of the day. Saturday is different. The events of Friday are over. Jesus’ body is off the cross, it’s now wrapped in cloth, and the tomb is sealed. In the grave blood oozes through the fabric where the nails had pierced His hands, feet, side, and skull. The stone where he lies is stained with a pool of blood from the scourging of his back. This day there is no more pain, the accusations and attacks are mute, and now darkness and silence are Jesus’ only companions. While Fridays are unbearable, Saturdays can be as excruciating. Saturday, when cancer miraculously recedes but we are left with its traumatic aftereffects. Saturday, when we’ve survived the heart attack, but our emotions are drastically different. Saturday, when the divorce is final, and we are left to try to pick up the pieces and forge on. Saturday, when the death of a spouse, family member, or friend is final, and we now have to live life with the terrible void left in our hearts. Saturday, the darkness, and silence it brings, can be as overwhelming as the literal pain of Friday. Saturday leaves us with more questions than answers, more darkness than the darkest night, more uncertainty than we’ve ever experienced, and more fear than anyone could ever imagine. We know Fridays will end with finality, either healing or heaven, but Saturday leaves us with no voices of encouragement, no one to lift our faith, and no date of expiration as too when the darkness will disappear, and light will shine bright again. How do we survive Saturday? In the faith that there will be a Sunday, that what Jesus said will come to pass. That as He resurrected, your situation too can come back to life. You survive Saturday by remembering the blind being given their sight, the lame walking, and Lazarus being brought back from the dead. You survive Saturday by remembering the mercy showed by Jesus to a Samaritan woman with five husbands at a well, and grace extended to a woman caught in the middle of a wild sexual tryst. Saturdays are when God often leaves us alone but teaches us to know He is still with us. May I say that again? Saturdays are when He leaves us alone but is still with us. Saturdays may mean leaning in and waiting patiently, quietly, and humbly, praying, and resting in the fact that He said, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Heb. 13:5). Saturday may last a day, a week, a year, or possibly even decades but no matter how lonely, how dark, how overwhelming, or how long Saturday is, know that there is a Sunday in our future (John 14:3, Acts 1:11). God went through Saturday to show us the way and that we too can survive our Saturday. Sundays, they happen in an instant. One moment death, the next resurrection and life. A move of the Spirit, an unexpected change in a person, a blessing that overwhelms, an opportunity that comes out of nowhere, or physical miracle that forever is your testimony. Sometimes a Sunday means an eternal ticket to an everlasting Sunday; no more pain, sickness, or struggles with this life. If you are experiencing or have lived in a Saturday, I encourage you to take on a new perspective this Easter, begin living with an expectation that your Sunday is on its way!
Sitting at my desk watching nature through our windows I’ve seen life at its best. A hawk chasing a squirrel who is trying to escape for its life. A yellow finch continually knocking on our window (this has been happening for weeks). I’ve watched a red bird feed her babies in a pine tree and a chipmunk nibbling nervously on something he found to enjoy. And sounds. Leaves whispering their own song as the breeze blows through their branches, birds humming a beautiful melody, and squirrels making noises I’ve never heard before, only because I’ve taken time to listen. Our orange hammock hanging on a tree nearby blows in the wind, it’s a place to enjoy a good book and nap. I love this more than ever, a new incredible lease on life, I see beauty all around me. I was in a very dark place two years ago and couldn’t capture this kind of beauty if I would have tried. I was paralyzed with fear and anxiety, trying desperately to pray through it and survive it. Now, two years later, the miraculous hand of God is again working in mysterious ways in my life, I see life differently. I’m forever grateful; there are no words that can express how incredible the God we serve is. I mean it, I truly mean it when I say, that I understand that there is a devastating anxiety that can paralyze a soul. It’s real. I was there and know what it feels like to think, this will never end. I know this subject is something we don’t like to talk about, something we want to sweep under the rug, and never bring up, but we can’t do that if we want to survive. God sees where we are at even when we can’t feel him. Never, ever give up, keep getting back up. Your breakthrough is coming, and you will find, like nature, there is beauty in it all.
– Mary Hudson
It all started early Monday morning. A thump on our window, and then another, and then another. . . and it has continued all week. What is it? One small yellow finch. I am assuming it’s the same one, surely there’s not another that wants to spend its entire day crashing its head into our sliding glass window. At this moment, as I am writing, I’m safe to say he (or she) is averaging a crash about every ten seconds. Occasionally, it stops, shakes itself, inspects its feathers, and begins again. It seems absurd, and I suppose at some point it will stop, but for now, “bird tv” is a part of our daily entertainment. We’ve scared it off a few times, but it returns, and continues its relentless attack on our glass. I would love to have a conversation with it about its actions and purpose, but obviously I don’t speak bird, and I’m not really sure it would accomplish anything. Reminds me of how we sometimes handle stress, anxiety, and worry. Like the bird, no matter how much sleep we lose, how much time we spend in a mental round-about, we just end up burning energy and wasting time, and accomplishing nothing. In Matthew 6:27 Jesus puts it bluntly when He says, “who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” What are we to do? We basically have three options. First, living like the yellow finch who is assaulting our window; spend your days stressing, worrying, using a lot of energy, and accomplishing nothing. Second, trust God. David gives us valuable wisdom in Proverbs 3:5 when he says, “trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.” Finally, relax! There is not one thing that overwhelms God, and if He’s not overwhelmed, then give it your best effort to not let issues trouble you either.
Our world seems to be giving us every opportunity to be scared, to live in fear. Many did, and some still, live in fear as COVID grips the globe. Anyone else race to the store to buy water and toilet paper when COVID derailed our lives? Ever get a call from the doctor’s office saying, “we need to run some test,” and where does our mind go? Often fear fills our mind and instantly we imagine the worst possible scenario. As war breaks out in Europe, for the first time, we have the ability to watch as a nation is being destroyed. In addition, there is a fear that at any moment we could wake up to the news that our country has been impacted by nuclear weaponry. What if I told you that fear is part of God’s design? That without fear we wouldn’t have the wisdom to avoid dangerous situations. Fear often protects us, but when fear gets out of control, it is sin. What fear should do is give us an opportunity to lean in and trust God. Jesus gives us a great illustration of what to do when facing fear in Matthew 14. We find Jesus’ disciples in the midst of a storm; one he had sent them into. As waves crash, lightening flashes, and disciples are panicking, Jesus appears. Suddenly everything changes for one disciple, Simon Peter. His focus moves from fear to faith, and in an instant, he is no longer fixated on the storm, but the God of the storm. Did the storm stop? Did the waves calm? Did the lightening cease? No, but Simon Peter’s focus changed and even though we often concentrate on him sinking, the truth is he ended up where everyone needs to end up when storms come. . . in the never-failing arms and safety of Jesus.