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!
The Other Side of the Fence
His yard has shade trees, fruit trees, cement and gravel patios, beautiful flowers, and lots of space to roam. The grass is lush and green, and the yard has been sprayed so there are no weeds or bugs. There is a fence to keep people and large animals from entering; he is protected. It should be a paradise. But for Gentry’s dog, JJ, it is not. He is constantly escaping through the fence to get on the other side. For some reason he feels as though the grass is green on the other side of the fence. It’s not. In fact, there are more weeds and bugs, and it is definitely not as safe. Next door are several large dogs and a few yards to the west, is a golf course where he could easily be hit by a ball. Travel a few yards east and he’s in the street where he could be hit by a car, or someone could take him. We’ve done all that we can to protect JJ, but regardless of how hard we try, we can’t protect him from himself. Kind of a snapshot of what God has done for us. God has given us everything we need to have a beautiful life. He has set parameters in place for our protection, to keep us safe. Yet, like JJ, many see the grass greener on the other side of the fence. For some reason much of humanity see sin as liberty; that on the other side of God’s Word and warnings, there is something better. Our world advertises happiness, freedom, and liberty without God, but way too often it’s filled with hurt, brokenness and pain. Learn to live in God’s constraints and all the good things He has prepared for you. Regardless of how it may look, living inside the fence is the best life.
Give It Some Time
It doesn’t make sense. Ever said that? What doesn’t make sense today, might tomorrow or in a week, and most likely will in a year or two. Larnelle Harris sang a song entitled, In it After All. The first verse says, “All of those moments I spent crying, when something inside of me was dying, I didn’t know that You heard me each time I called, you had a reason for those trials, it seems I grew stronger every mile, now I know You were in it after all.” How true those words were a week after Easter. Friday brought panic, Saturday brought silence and Sunday brought joy, but time brought clarity. On Friday and Saturday nothing made sense and on Sunday they were too overwhelmed with the unimaginable, but the further they got away from Easter Sunday the more the whole event made3 sense. The disciple’s tears are now dry, their shattered hopes are being put back together and their faith is stronger. They have seen Him, touched Him and had dinner with Him. Soon their brokenness will become boldness. Time does amazing things when we allow God to do His work in us. What we feel is meant to destroy us often is the foundation that allows us the stand when future storms come our way. A cross and a crucifixion can change the composition of your life if you allow it. Without the cross there is no ascension, no upper room and no eternal hope. What are you walking through that doesn’t make sense? Give it some time. Just as the pain of the disciples was a part of the process to bring them power, what you are going through has purpose too. Just give it some time.
Because Storms Come
What do we do when there is a forecast of an impending snowstorm? We head to the grocery store. We load up on bread, milk, eggs and other essentials. We top off the car with fuel, head home with a trunk full of groceries, prepared for the storm. Wake up to a forecast that says rain and we grab a jacket and an umbrella. Being prepared is vital to surviving a storm, whether rain, snow or the storms of life. Why fast? Because storms are coming. It’s not a maybe or possibility, it’s not the question of if, but when will the storms hit. This year there will be unexpected job losses, sickness, emotional hurt, life disappointments and difficulties we don’t anticipate. Knowing storms are in the future, what do we do? We prepare. We pray. We fast. We make our relationship with God a priority. That’s how we prepare spiritually. Jesus went into the wilderness, full of the Spirit, but comes out in the power of the Spirit. What happened in the wilderness? He was tempted. He fasted. He came out ready for all the challenges lie ahead. Paul was converted on the Damascus Road, but before he ever preached a message, God sent him to an Arabian desert. What happened in the desert? He prayed and fasted. He was being prepared for the impending storms; shipwrecks, stonings, beatings, persecution and jail, all storms that lay in front of Paul. How did he survive? Spiritual preparation. What does 2021 hold? God only knows, but one thing I do know, there will be storms. Are you preparing? How we prepare today will determine how we handle the storms and if we will survive. Fast today because storms are coming.