If I am being totally and completely transparent, this Easter was a time of dissonance for me.
It sounds strange. I mean, Jesus’ resurrection is the pinnacle of the Christian faith, the formation of my hope, and God’s ultimate “good news.” How is one not happy to wear white clothes, devour chocolate bunnies or eggs, sit in the sunshine, and sing song lyrics like, Oh death! Where is your sting? Oh hell! Where is your victory? Oh Church! Come stand in the light!
Christ is risen. He is alive.
I know those phrases like the back of my hand, and I do believe them.
The rhythm of Holy Week– the story of Jesus’ betrayal, death, waiting in darkness, and resurrection– is the most beautiful narrative I know. It culminates with the story of Easter, which promises that the present state of affairs is temporary, that resurrection and redemption have replaced decay and death. The hope of new life, the hope of the restoration of all things, the scared women at Jesus’ tomb hearing the words: He is not here; He is risen, as he said.
And while I affirm that the tomb is empty, sometimes it is hard for me to feel joy in celebrating Jesus’ resurrection. I beat myself up over why celebrating God’s good news can feel so forced to me. Am I inoculated to the story? Too cynical? Is the idea of resurrection too distant? How awful of a Christian I must be if I can’t genuinely say WOOHOO JESUS on command!
If I’m being honest, does some part of me wonder if Sunday has really come yet?
Metaphorically, I resonate much more with the Saturday of Holy Week, the day before Easter. In an angsty stage of my life, I wrote a poem entitled, “Perpetual Saturday,” related to this point. I think about Jesus’ disciples on the Saturday of Holy Week– the day after they lost everything (or so they thought). Maybe they were hiding in shame, weeping bitter tears of agony, stunned that their God had been brutally murdered. Everything– their purpose in life, their vision– had been shattered. They could not imagine what would happen when the sun rose the next morning.
I resonate with humanity’s ache for wholeness. This age-old groan is evidenced as early as the Book of Job and is so beautifully articulated in the psalms of lament. Millions of people have echoed the cries, the hurting, the longing for what has not yet come. There is the the waiting… the waiting for so, so long… for God’s redemption.
And yes, Easter commemorates that the tomb is empty. Yes, the sun has come up. Yes, a new order of things has been reinstated by Jesus’ death and resurrection.
But then so much of my life feels barren, as if Sunday’s radiance hasn’t come. The chasm between what is and what should be feels seismic, endless, insurmountable. The winter has been so long and brutal that my joy has frozen into an uncomfortable numbness, a hollow ache, a throbbing wound.
What happens when Saturday never seems to end?
My pastor preached a sermon this Easter aptly entitled, “Saturday is Always Followed by Sunday.” He concludes with this, “That day, when you see Jesus face to face in Heaven, you will look back at all the pain, all the frustration, all the despair, all the struggles of this world, and He calls you by name, you will look back, and think: it was all worth it.” I believe that his words are true: someday, somehow, all things will be reconciled to God. Winter will end. Jesus has risen from the dead. And so will I.
I don’t know how any of this makes sense. I don’t even want to begin to address the meaning of all of the present suffering– the tears, the blood, the anguish– that we (and God) have undergone. I don’t know how our present troubles will dissolve and melt into God’s overwhelming love. Yet, when despair chokes my throat as I try to say, He is alive, my knuckles will grip to the truth that in the end, all will be celebrated. All will make sense. All will be whole. I don’t know how. I don’t know when. But this I believe: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well” (Julian of Norwich).
The story of Easter takes a lifetime– perhaps an eternity– to understand. In the darkness, in the seeds of new life, and in the confusion of Saturday, I will walk by faith that God is making all things new, even when it is not in my timing. I will trust that Saturday, although mind-numbing and seemingly perpetual, will always be followed by Sunday.
In the meantime, I can’t pretend that I’m some strangely caffeinated, joy-filled, president-of-the-optimist-club Christian. I struggle to internalize joy and hope. I have to be real about that, while holding in tension that I believe God and will wait on Him.
So: may you cry, challenge, love, and celebrate this Easter season and beyond. May you be empowered to be honest about what you are feeling because God can hold whatever it is.
May you bask in the reality that God makes dead people live. May you cling to that promise.