A few weeks ago the Church paused as we do every year and sat still for a moment in the weight of Good Friday. It's a day we are confronted with the overwhelming wreckage of sin and death. We consider its devastation. And we marvel at a Savior who came and swallowed it whole. On Good Friday, the darkness seems almost palpable and the cross somehow a bit nearer and clearer.
For our family, this past Good Friday was a day where we not only remembered the effects of sin upon our Savior, we felt the pervasiveness of this broken world in a very personal way. On that day, time came to a screeching halt and the only words we could muster were, "It's just not supposed to be this way." Similar thoughts, I'm sure, to those standing at the foot of the cross 2000 years ago, eyes blurred with tears, unable to even look at the suffering and dying Messiah.
It's just not supposed to be this way.
Grief hit us hard and fast at a morning routine exam. At sixteen weeks along, I had long passed by the first trimester danger zone. We had begun to attach. I had felt the baby move. Dreams had begun to take wings...visions of newborn ecstasy, toddler antics and the way this little one would come and transform our hearts and home with joy and new life. Conception was nothing short of a total unexpected miracle, so naturally we were certain, God must have something special in store, right?
At first there was no heartbeat on the doppler. We brushed it aside and thought, "Oh, this is fun! We get an extra peek with an ultrasound today." We were not prepared for the tidal wave of emotion that came next. The disbelief. The uncontrollable shaking. The desperation to turn back time. The overwhelming dread of having to tell our older kids. The confusion. The out of body experience in the almost mechanical decision-making that had to be done. I don't ever want to relive the nightmare of that day. Sleep evaded me as I kept waking to the echo of the doctor's words, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
Then came Saturday.
As we sat in the debris of Friday, we approached His word with crumpled, desperate hearts, begging for comfort, healing, answers...anything. And like a tender, faithful father and friend, who knows what it's like to lose a child on Good Friday, His peace came like a flood. Like streams in the desert or light in the pitch black. We cried and prayed and found solace in holding one another in the presence of Christ, the Healer. He began to whisper future hope and beauty and at the same time entered in and joined us in our aching, suffering and sorrow.
Themes and promises from Isaiah poured over us like Spring showers.
"For the LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song." Is. 51:3
" 'For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,' says the LORD who has compassion on you. 'O afflicted one, storm tossed and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires...All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children." Is. 54:10-13
We were covered in the dust and ashes of Friday, and yet living and believing the very real hope of Sunday. We were limping (more like crawling) and fragile in our humanity, yet miraculously strengthened by the promise and presence of divinity.
In the middle of both the grieving and the healing, I was struck by the timing of it all. More than ever I realized as believers, we are daily living in the tension of Saturday.
We are battered, bruised, afflicted and storm-tossed by the sin and brokenness of this world. We feel "Friday" in every way. And at the same time we lift our heads and look towards the true light and hope of Sunday, standing in the victory of the vacant grave. I simultaneously grieve and give thanks, weep and rejoice. While living in this vantage point of Saturday, I've found my sorrow of Friday and hope of Sunday actually inform one another. Because of Christ, my living hope, I am able to suffer with Him...and suffer like Him. The One who for the joy set before Him endured the cross (Heb 12:2). My hope gives me strength in my suffering reminding me there is always purpose and resurrection on the other side.
In the same breath, the suffering of Friday makes the hope of Sunday all the sweeter, for I know that light and momentary afflictions are building up an eternal weight of glory without comparison (2 Cor 4:17-18). My suffering allows me to hold fast to hope, to the promise of gaining Christ Himself in and through every loss on this earth (Eph 3:7-11).
It's in this tension of Saturday we live. Life is but temporary and fleeting. One day we will no longer say, "It's just not supposed to be this way."
No. One Day, one Final Day...all will be as it is supposed to be.
I will hold my little one that flew straight into the arms of Jesus. There will be no more sin. No more suffering or sorrow. And we will see the Lord.
Until that day, may we faithfully walk with a limp towards His throne one holy step at a time, embracing the cross of Friday (2 Cor 4:10-11), with our hope fully set on that glorious future Sunday (1 Pet 1:13). No doubt, our Lord is continually with us...comforting, healing, strengthening, and shepherding us for all our Saturdays.