Updated: Apr 9
It’s Saturday afternoon, the day before we celebrate Easter Sunday.
Last night during our Good Friday service, while I felt emotionally dry, unexpected tears filled my eyes as we sang “The Old Rugged Cross.”
The vivid memory of my mother’s last night on earth consumed my thoughts. She had lost her ability to communicate, yet as my sister, niece and I sat around her bedside singing hymns to comfort her (and us), she tried to sing along to this beloved hymn. Alzheimer’s had long stolen her rational thoughts, but I was certain as she mouthed the words that she was aware she was being called home, into the glorious presence of the One who had died for her on that old rugged cross. In the early hours of a December Sunday morning, she laid down the burden of her own earthly cross and bowed at the feet of her Savior, healthy and whole, and rejoicing.
This morning, as I was reading through the gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection, I realized that other than observing the Sabbath, the Scriptures don’t provide details about what Jesus’ followers were doing the day after His crucifixion. Certainly, it was a dismal Saturday. I imagine they were gathered together trying to process what had happened. Emotions probably ranged from fear to grief to despair. After all, they had witnessed the One they loved, followed and walked with be mocked, scourged and hung on a cross like a criminal. They had given up everything to follow Jesus, but now He was dead. Surely they lamented, “what now?”
I thought about my own season of sorrow. I have been struggling to process grief and regain my footing after losing both of my parents within 14 months. I’ve lost the comfort of their presence. The security of their love. Their physical touch. The sound of their voices saying “I love you.” I’ve lost being known by the ones who loved me longest. I’ve lost the ones who were most familiar to me. I, too, have been lamenting, “what now?”
Countless times, I’ve read the Scriptural account of events of the Sunday morning after Jesus’ death. The women went to the tomb with spices to anoint Jesus’ body, only to find the stone rolled away and His body missing, and then they encountered an angel. Today, as I read Luke 24:6, for the first time five words, spoken by the angel, caught my attention: “remember what He told you.” The angel was reminding the women that Jesus had told them what would happen. Jesus had told them He would be betrayed, crucified and would rise again on the third day.
I am thankful to live on this side of the resurrection and have easy access to the Scriptures. Daily, I celebrate the words of the angel, “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” But today I have been pondering, what do I need to remember that Jesus has told me? What remembrance can shake me free from emotional chains? And then I began to remember things God has recently spoke to my heart as I read His word:
I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. ~ John 14:18
By the world’s definition, I am an orphan. While my earthly parents have finished their race, my Heavenly Father is very much alive. Spiritually, I am not — nor will I ever be — an orphan. The Holy Spirit has come and resides in me and is with me always.
But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! ~ Isaiah 43:1
My parents knew me from my first breath and gave me my name. Yet even before I was conceived, God knew me. He intimately knit me in my mother’s womb and assigned the day of my first breath and knows the day I will draw my last. He calls me by name. I am His eternally.
This is what the Lord says, He who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to create it, He whose name is the Lord: ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ ~ Jeremiah 33:2-3
Out of the billions of people that have ever been, will be and are — God knows my unique voice. He hears me when I call. He listens for my voice. And if I listen for His, He will tell me great and mighty things.
This season of grief is just that, a season. When my burden seems too heavy or the road too long, I must pause and remember God’s faithfulness to me in the past. In the moments when despair seeps in or I begin to wonder “what now,” I must remember I live on this side of Good Friday and Holy Saturday. I know the glorious Easter story — and resurrection Sunday’s coming!
Tomorrow, I will think of the old rugged cross. I will celebrate my risen Savior’s victory over death. I will rejoice with hope as I remember what He has told me:
“I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” ~ John 11:25-26