Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Saturday Blues

It's Saturday.  The Sabbath.  The followers of Christ sit stunned, disheartened, broken, and even- in the case of Peter- full of self-loathing.  The man they've invested their lives in lies in a grave.
"How did this happen?"
"Were we foolish to believe in him?"
"But we saw him do amazing things!"
"He healed!"
"He turned away the Pharisees!"
"He raised Lazarus from the grave!"
"Why did God allow this to happen?"
"How could the world win?"
"Surely he was the Messiah!"
"But now he's dead. Our hope is dead!"

As I sit here on this overcast Saturday, I think of the emotions the disciples must have been feeling.  They had to have felt defeated. Robbed of the very hope they'd given their very livelihoods to follow. Perhaps they watched the new day dawn in hopes that the events of Friday were just a nightmare.  Jesus would walk into the room at any minute and tell them again how much they were loved. "Please, God, let it be a nightmare!"

I can relate to this on a small scale because there have been days in my life when I truly felt that things couldn't be happening the way they were.  When my Grandmother died, I yelled at God: "How could You let this happen? For one of the first times in my life, I listened to Your call.  I walked away from the Air Force to help here.  For what?! So I could sit and see the pain in Granddaddy's eyes?"  When I watched my Mother battled the cancer that had metastasized into her brain and spinal column, I was often bitter and cried out regularly, "Why her?  Why a woman who's devoted herself to You and others my whole life?!  How is this fair? It makes no sense!" When I heard my diagnosis of Stage 4 head and neck cancer I was floored. This time I was more worried about Lisa and her fears than my own. Again it was, "Why? How is this fair?"  Finally I've watched more friends than I care to think of battle disease and illness.  Debbie Lloyd's battle with breast cancer was deeply personal to me as I watched how it affected Rich and the kids. When I recently heard of Jackie Depew's recurrence, I was angry to the point of being speechless.

Every day we can look around us and see pain, injustice, selfishness, self-destructive behavior, and illness.  It is easy to think, "The world has won!" or, "There is no hope for humanity."  We find ourselves in that Saturday funk.

But, the story doesn't end there. The tomb doesn't stay sealed. Jesus doesn't stay in the grave. The world most certainly doesn't win! Hope is here and we must grab hold of it. My Granddaddy, with that pain in his eyes, looked at me and said, "We may hurt today, but I believe God will give us the strength to face tomorrow. I KNOW I'll see your Grandmother again!" My Mother looked me in the eye and said, "Remember what Job said, 'the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.' God is in control and we must always be ready to praise His Name." I turned the radio on when Lisa and I sat in the car following my diagnosis, "Praise You in the Storm" by Casting Crowns came on.  Mother's words hit me again and we turned it over to Him. Debbie told me on several occasions that she fell back onto the words of "Great is Thy Faithfulness" as she battled.  She also embraced, "Lord, I Need You" in the FUEL services as a confession. Lamentations 3: 22-23 says, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."

It's Saturday. The sky is cloudy. The world seems to be winning. But I DO have hope. Tomorrow morning, as the sun rises, I'll be standing in Union Cemetery praising God because I know that death has been defeated! I know that suffering is temporary!  I know that when I am broken and don't know where to turn, God is there to pick up the pieces and hold me together!  Great is Thy faithfulness! 

The Lord is risen! He is Risen, indeed!

Father God, I revel in the majesty of Your grace!  I fall on my face in awe of the love you've shown me and the strength You continue to give me.  I lift up to You this broken world in which we live.  Shower Your grace on those who need to feel Your presence so greatly.  I lift up those who battle illness, those who have lost loved ones, those whose life situations seem completely out of control. Father, let them feel Your presence and let those of us who bear Your name take up the cross and carry the truth of Your love into our communities.  Use us for Your glory! In Jesus Name, Amen!

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