Why is there a day between the death and resurrection of Jesus? Why does God spread these two salvation events over three days? What’s with this horrible day in the middle?
This just seems to be the way our God works. I have no idea why. But this seems to be his divine pattern. The Scriptures are full of three-day stories. On the first day there’s trouble, on the second day there’s nothing — just continuing trouble. Salvation comes on the third day. Always.
The problem with three-day stories, though, is that you don’t know it’s a three-day story until that third day. When it’s Saturday, you don’t know God’s deliverance is going to come. It doesn’t feel like it. It probably feels like a two-day story and this Saturday is going to last the rest of my life.
Yesterday I wrote that nothing happens on Saturday. That’s not true. Silence happens on Saturday. After the trouble hits, after the awful thing happens, you cry out to God, “Save me, Father! Help me, Lord! Listen to me, God! Do something! Say something! God, help me!”
Nothing. Silence. Absence. You run to God in your despair, you cry out to God in your pain and desperation, and you get the door slammed in your face. The sound of a deadbolt locking on the inside. And then silence.
Let’s stop acting like this never happens. Let’s stop pretending that every day’s a Sunday. If our churches are going to be safe places to talk about sex, we also need to be safe places to talk openly about the realities a whole bunch of us experience with the silence of God during times of despair. Half the psalms in our Bible deal openly, publicly, with the troubling fact of God’s silence. But we never sing them. Or read them. Or pray them.
“O Lord, day and night I cry out before you. For my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like a man without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care.” ~Psalm 88:1-5
A husband, a father, wants more than anything else in the world to save his marriage. But his wife won’t listen and she won’t help. He’s not perfect — not even close— and he knows it. But he wants to do what’s right. He doesn’t know why his wife won’t respond to him, why she won’t try, and he can’t stand what this is doing to their kids. And God is silent. Nothing. Dead.
“You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily upon me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?” ~Psalm 88:6-9a, 14
A mom and dad find out their child has a terminal illness. They pray like crazy. They pray all the time. Nothing. She’s getting worse. And they pray more and they pray harder. Nothing. Again, the Scriptures acknowledge this reality.
“I say to God, ‘Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning?'” ~Psalm 42:9
“You are God, my stronghold. Why have you rejected me? Why must I go about mourning?” ~Psalm 43:2
“Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject me forever! Why do you hide your face and forget my misery and oppression?” ~Psalm 44:23-24
You lose a friend. You lose your health. Your financial situation changes. Your church has let you down. Your spouse betrays you. A very horrible and particular thing has happened to you and it’s not getting better. It just happened in the past few weeks and you can’t see past it. Maybe it happened 20 years ago and it still feels like every single day is the “day after.” Maybe you can’t point to one terrible tragedy, you just know that you’re living in darkness, you’re dying on the inside, and you feel totally abandoned by the people all around you and by our God.
“I cry to you for help, O Lord. Why, O Lord do you reject me and hide your face from me? I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.” ~Psalm 88:13-18
What do you do on Saturday? How should you behave when you feel like even God isn’t with you?
Come back tomorrow. I promise, I’ll give you an idea from Scripture tomorrow. You might not like it; but I really do believe it’s the answer.