Where Is God When It Hurts? A 7 Day Study On Finding God In Our Pain

Day 6 of 7 • This day’s reading


Having said all that we have said so far, we still haven’t said enough. What is our responsibility when we are in seasons of pain and desolation? What is our part in the process?

I’m a sucker for the church calendar: the annual journey from Advent, where we await Christ’s coming, to Christmas, where we celebrate the Incarnation, through Epiphany, where we remember the words and deeds of the Lord Jesus, through which he revealed himself to the world, and on into Lent and Easter, where we enter once again with Jesus into the process of death and resurrection by which our lives and our world is made new. (And let’s not forget Pentecost, where we open ourselves afresh to the Spirit of the Living God who fills us and sends us out into a broken world with blessing!) I love it all.

One of my favorite moments in the church calendar is, I think, a rather overlooked moment: Holy Saturday. We know about Good Friday, and we know about Easter Sunday—but what in the world is this in-between moment, Holy Saturday, and why is it important?

Last year, the morning after a beautiful Good Friday service, I was up early. Holy Saturday. I started the routine I’ve told you about: coffee, baseball hat and sweatshirt, Bible and a prayer book, and quiet march out to the porch. One of the traditional readings for Holy Saturday is Psalm 130 (our reading for the day). The line hit me hard: “more than watchmen wait for the morning…” I put down my Bible and looked out over the eastern horizon. The sun was just beginning to illuminate the darkness—but not yet. Cued by the words of the Psalmist, I waited, and waited, and waited… And eventually the thought dawned on me–this is what Holy Saturday is. And what Holy Saturday is, the better part of the life of faith is: waiting on God…

We American Christians struggle with this. So much of our national self-identity is built on our appreciation for good ol’ fashioned gumption. Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps, get ‘er done, make it happen. There’s a place for that. Surely there is. But Holy Saturday reminds us that our efforts are not the whole story, that we are not in control. As Jesus waited in the grave for the Father to raise him by the Spirit, so we wait. As we are not in charge of the timing of the rising of the sun, so we are not in charge of our own rising. Not at all. Not even a little. 

But here’s the thing: God is faithful. He always has been. He always will be. Each morning, as he has since the beginning, he’ll raise up old Brother Sun to light our landscape and warm our bones and fill our hearts with gladness. And this, if we have eyes to see it, will be for us a sign that just as he raised up Brother Jesus from the dead to light our lives and warm our weary world with his gladness, so he’ll raise us up from death to life, from defeat to triumph, from songs of mourning to endless hallelujahs. If there is hope for a life beyond death—a hope for life after our gumption has totally run its course, and the evil of our world seems to have conquered—friend, it doesn’t rest with you; it rests with God and God alone.

Just: wait . . .