Why do bad things happen and bad people get away with it? Where is God in times of darkness, silence and pain? The story of Easter Saturday explores some of these questions:
‘Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither […] Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes […] Those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.’ (Psalm 37:1-2a, 7, 9b)
I can hardly begin to imagine what must have been going through the disciples’ minds on Easter Saturday. The man with whom they had shared their lives for three years, who had claimed to be the Messiah for whom they’d been waiting, upon whom they have placed their dreams and expectations, had suffered an excruciating death and now lay in a tomb. And with him lay their hope.
The question of why bad things happen to good people is immense and difficult. Still, across the centuries, God’s people have drawn a sense of comfort from knowing that God is with them, even in the pain.
Easter Saturday is a painful day full of questions and disappointments. It stands in the silence between the despair of Friday and the hope of Sunday. The disciples on the road to Emmaus were forced to re-evaluate their whole worldview and their faith in God’s purposes. ‘They stood still, their faces downcast’ and said, “Jesus was handed over to death and crucified, but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Luke 24:17, 20-21)
It is incredibly important that we learn how to handle times of silence.
Even the great King David, who wrote Psalm 37 above also wrote ‘You will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay’ (Psalm 16:10), but as Peter reminds us David most definitely did die, was buried and has decayed! In this we learn a valuable lesson, that David’s hope was not in vain, and that God works through even the most hopeless situations. Peter continues, ‘David was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay’ (Acts 2:29-31)
It’s easy to see it now, with the gift of hindsight, but even as Jesus’ body lay in a grave, having cried out only a day earlier ‘My God, why have you forsaken me!’ (Matt 27:26) God had not abandoned him. It was all part of his plan for the healing of the world and the rescue of mankind.
God doesn’t work in predictable ways. The Apostle Paul marvels at the apparent illogic of the cross, saying, ‘We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for it they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory’ (1 Corinthians 2:8).
When wisdom seems hidden, God is at work. In the darkness and gloom of Easter Saturday, trust in God. Sunday is coming.
Questions for Reflection
- How must the disciples have felt on Easter Saturday? Can you identify with their experience and their questions?
- How can you learn to see God at work in your world, even when He appears to be absent?
Why not use the following to help you to pray today:
Lord Jesus, I thank you that you do not abandon your people, but are always in control. Even as you lay in a grave on Easter Saturday, God’s purposes were not defeated. Please help me to see you at work in my life, even when it seems like you are absent. I choose to trust in you, and I look forward to Easter Sunday and the promise of hope and new life. Amen
If you find yourself with some extra time today, why not listen to David Stroud’s talk from the Teach us to Pray series on how to pray when God seems silent, and for further reading on this subject check out Pete Greig’s excellent book God on Mute.
Join us tomorrow for our Easter Sunday service, where we will think about the resurrection of Jesus and celebrate the promise of new life. We will only hold one meeting on that day, so join us at The Mermaid Centre, from 11.00-12.30.
Image: Empty Chair, by alamodestuff, used under CC