Lent runs 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, not counting Sundays because every Sunday is a “little Easter.” We all know about Good Friday, but there is one final day of Lent beyond that. And if you understand this day, Holy Saturday, it will help you to worship God in the midst of any uncertainty, pain or grief.
Holy Saturday commemorates the full day that Christ lay dead in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. It is, then, the “darkest of days.” For Jesus’ followers, Good Friday was tragic, of course. But it was a day full of adrenaline rushes, high drama and the hope that surely their Lord would fight, would call for His legions of angels, would perform a miracle and escape His death sentence.
Holy Saturday is just the dull ache of reality: “This really happened. Jesus is dead. He’s gone.”
Imagine the perspective of the disciples, who did not understand until after the resurrection that these things had to take place, and that of course Christ would rise.
We know a little bit about what that feels like, don’t we? We believe that God “works all things together for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). We believe He answers prayer, and that He loves us.
So why does he let tragedy strike us? Why do babies die? Why do mothers get breast cancer? Why do fathers leave their families, never or seldom to see their kids again?
As Kristen and I wrote in “Chase Away My Unbelief”:
My emotions can deceive
My own perspective’s incomplete
Help me to trust eternity
Chase away my unbelief
All of us, at various points, take up the perspective of the disciples on that first Holy Saturday (sometimes called “Black Saturday”). And it is good to cry out to God, as even Jesus did on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” God wants us to express our sorrow, our lamentations, our confusion to Him. This is a lesson that Holy Saturday teaches us.
And because we have the benefit of hindsight that Peter, James, Mary and the others didn’t have, we know Easter’s coming. In the midst of being pressed, crushed and slain, we can still say, “Help is coming from our God who saves.”
When life brings you low, say to yourself, “This is a Holy Saturday moment for me. But Easter is coming. I may weep tonight, but joy is an eternal morning!” From the perspective of eternity, our trials last for the briefest flicker of time. Our tearful partings with loved ones only last a moment. Soon and very soon, the darkness will all be past. This is what Holy Saturday and Easter teach us. God is love, and love is forever. We have nothing to fear.