Things started to crumble as they stood watching Jesus take His last breath. Panic set in as their heroic, fearless, determined, and intentional leader hung lifeless on the Roman cross.
The clouds grew dark as the world revolted at the Creator’s death. The whispers of the enemy came in like a flood, “Rome won again!”
Their heart pieced and mind perplexed; they whispered under their breath, “He was supposed to be our King. He was supposed to reign.”
Their lives slowly capsized as the magnitude of the storm in front of them and within them raged.
Their hope for what they thought He would do, and the rescue they thought He would perform was demolished, ground into powder, and blown away into nothingness.
“Why is this happening?” asking themselves because the One they wanted to ask was no longer breathing.
Their questioning continued, “He can’t really be dead. He warned us, but He so often spoke in parables. How can this be?”
As they stood shell-shocked, almost wishing they’d be struck by lightning. The crowds scattered. But, no matter how great the ground shook, their lives were shaken exponentially more. They’d given up their livelihood, family relations, and, dare I say, dignity and worldly respect. Feeling guilty for asking, standing there with nothing to show for the last three years of their lives, they wondered, “were we wrong?”
They didn’t want to leave. Part of them thought, if he raised Lazarus, couldn’t He raise Himself?! Yet, they stood watching their mentor and friend taken off the cross like a rag doll.
Tears were not present as their disbelief was too great.
“Jesus?” one called out as if to help his own mind understand that He was really gone.
There was no answer.
Time stood still. The silence of the moment was deafening as a man draped Jesus’ unresponsive body over his shoulder.
The world they had known for the last three years, all the highs, the lows, the misunderstanding, the miracles, the adventure, the impenetrable feeling of purpose and fulfillment, died with their Leader’s final breath. Their hopes were dashed. As silence persisted, the darkness of grief sunk deep into their hearts, and their faces wore the expression of their growing despondency.
“He was supposed to save us.” Someone said, breaking the silence. They were all thinking it, but none of them were brave enough to say it.
They had forgotten His words… “in three days, I will rise again.”
Over the next day, the tension of the times kept them huddled together. The women came and went bringing food and other necessities. Sleep became a thing of the past.
Until one morning, a rattling and tapping on the door awoke them from their fitful sleep.
They stared at each other. The women knew the grief too well, to make a joke.
Peter shot out of the door. He’d hardly slept since that rooster crowd. He wondered if he’d ever get over the searing pain of his denial every time he heard a rooster.
He arrived breathless, facing an empty tomb. He walked in and investigated the linens that were left behind.
Where had he gone? Who had taken him? After scouring the area for a while, he and the other disciples left.
And that’s when He appeared — to Mary. Tenderly, He asked her why she was crying. He knew why because He knows all things, but He wanted to hear it from her own lips. Her life has proved to Him she loved Him. She asked this unknown man to bring Him back — if this man had taken her Lord.
But when she heard “Mary,” she turned to Him and hugged Him with all the love in her heart.
There are seasons we face that feel like Friday. It’s when we thought Jesus would answer how we expected Him to. It feels like Friday, when we asked for relief from our physical or emotional suffering but heard silence. It feels like Friday when the provisions are not where we want them. It feels like Friday when we asked for a spouse, a child, a home, or a cancer-free diagnosis, and we find ourselves still asking. It feels like Friday when we lose the family member we love. It feels like Friday when we’ve been petitioning heaven for our wayward family and friends to find Jesus and have not seen a glimmer of hope. It feels like Friday when we asked Him to work how we thought He should…
Like the disciples, our expectations of what we want from Jesus has to come under the authority of God the Father. Even Jesus prayed, “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” Yet, God the Father, in His infinite wisdom, sought more than establishing a kingdom on earth, as the disciples had wished. He wanted to establish His kingdom throughout all generations. He was never about the earthly things; He was always about eternity. But as finite beings, we can’t always understand His ways. They’re higher, grander, and more than we can imagine.
His crushing of our hopes, is His kindest decision. He loves us too much to let our hope be placed in anything other than Hope itself. He lovingly breaks us to mold us into something stronger, into someone He can use. He wrecks us (our self-reliance, our pride, our abilities, etc.) so we don’t ultimately wreck ourselves.
His glory is too great to allow anything less than His very best, and sometimes the best is what hurts the most. Yet, He is always with us. He calls us by name, reminding us of these truths:
“You are not alone. I know the way you take. I will hold you. I will sustain you. I will comfort you. I will catch and count every single tear you cry. I will lift your head and pick you up when you’ve fallen. I hear you. I see you. I am not deaf to your cries. My hand is not too short. My love for you will not allow me to do anything but my ultimate best. And, I can still do immeasurably more than you can think or imagine, in my timing and in my way. I have not forgotten you.”
Despite our wandering and far too easily pleased hearts, He continues to come back for us time and time again. He never forsakes His own. He cares too much about us to leave us as we are and leave us to our own devices.
So when you experience Friday, know that God is still working. He is not withholding anything from us. He paid our greatest debt — a debt we could never pay. And if that were not enough, He walks with us through every valley and over every mountain. For every earthly thing, He chooses to take away, He gives more of Himself, and praise God Almighty, Sunday is coming!
“This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” — Romans 5:5
Listen to: Already Won, by Shane & Shane