NOTE: I planned on posting this during Holy Week, but I was ill most of that week, so I’m posting it now, after Easter. The third part in this series will be posted next week.
“Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him [Jesus] a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, ‘Hosanna to David’s son!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!’ ‘Hosanna in highest heaven!’ ” (Matthew 21:9 The Message)
From noon to three, the whole earth was dark. Around mid-afternoon Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” ” (Matthew 27:46 The MSG)
“But Jesus, again crying out loudly, breathed his last.” (Matthew 27:50 The MSG)
Jesus went from being adored and praised to being despised and brutally killed by hanging on a cross until he breathed his last breath. Quite a change in just a few short days!
Between the cries of “Hosanna!” and “Crucify him!”, Jesus spent most of his time with his closest disciples teaching them, loving them, and warning them of what’s to come…his death, which they certainly experienced, followed by his resurrection three days later, which they either forgot or didn’t believe.
Between Jesus’ death on that cross (Good Friday) and the discovery of his empty tomb on Sunday morning (Easter) was Saturday. There’s nothing recorded about this day in biblical history. In all four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), the biblical account goes from soldiers sealing the tomb and standing guard (so no one tries to steal Jesus’ body) to the morning after the Sabbath where Mary goes to the tomb and finds it empty.
John 19:41-42 tells us because it was the Sabbath preparation for the Jews, they placed Jesus in a tomb in a nearby garden. Luke 23:55-56 tells us, “The women who had been companions of Jesus from Galilee followed along. They saw the tomb where Jesus’ body was placed. Then they went back to prepare burial spices and perfumes. They rested quietly on the Sabbath, as commanded.“.
On the Sabbath (to us, the Saturday before Easter), they rested. There’s no biblical record that there was anything other than silence on this day. Certainly, there was grief for those who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. But no movement. No running around. No hope.
Is this where you are with your chronic pain or illness? A place of silence. Maybe some (or a lot) of grief. A place of no hope. Are you feeling like giving up? Tired of trying different therapies, treatments, and meds that have worked for others but not you? Have your finances dried up?
I have felt all of those, especially in the last week. I started the week with a visit from our grown kids and grandkids (my Hosanna!). I spent some of the week preparing for a somber Seder Meal and Good Friday, and several family gatherings on the weekend. I haven’t been sleeping well, my heart rate has been erratic, I have extreme fatigue/body and muscle aches/headache. I’ve been trying to balance the energy I have with my “days of preparation”, using heat, ice, lemon water and other aids to ease the symptoms of Lyme disease and detoxing from the disease. These symptoms were most evident Thursday through Sunday, and I finally crashed on Easter Sunday afternoon. A place of exhaustion, sadness, disappointment, and losing hope.
A place of silence.
With chronic illness, we all find ourselves in days like Saturday, a day where we feel like we’re “in limbo.” Where our illness seems to get the best of us, and hope seems illusive. Where Jesus seems silent and still in that tomb.
The disciples of Jesus experienced panic, separation, defeat, and dejection when Jesus died on that cross. They thought their conquering Savior had been defeated too. But Jesus knew with his arrest, and each beating, betrayal, and false witness that God’s plan was unfolding as it should.
I know something that the Jews didn’t know almost 2,000 years ago. Jesus rose from the dead after that “silent Saturday” (the Jews’ Sabbath) and he is still alive, sitting at God the Father’s right hand, interceding for me. Imagine that….Jesus praying for me!
Yes, he’s here, just a conversation or cry away, waiting for me to turn to him and ask him to help me to rest and help me to work. Sometimes it’s a quick, “Help me through this hour, Jesus,” or “I feel terrible. Help me to know what to do,” or “Thanks, Jesus, for this beautiful day you’ve given me.” It won’t always be silent and dark. Turn to Christ and ask him to carry your burden, and you will begin to see some light, some hope, crack through your darkness.
When have you experienced a dark or silent day, or experienced panic, despair, or loss of hope? How did you come through that dark experience? Please share in the comments below.