By Dannon Rampton
Today is a unique day. Many of our worship services focus on the life of Christ, the life that God is breathing into our world and the lives we live as Christians in this world, but today on Holy Sabbath we commemorate the day Christ was in the tomb.
One common criticism of Christianity is that we tend to put on cheery faces most of the time, hiding the darker side of life away out of sight. “We have this hope,” you see, and we want to encourage each other to overcome life’s trials. “Don’t worry,” we say, “God is in control. God works everything out for the best.” We stand on the promises of God, asking for the Divine Power to help us prevail. We celebrate the positive things we see God doing in our lives, and dream of a better world to come.
But some 2,000 years ago, God died. I can only imagine how his followers must have felt that weekend. They had left everything to follow Jesus. For three years they had traveled with him, watching him do miraculous things and listening to him teach about the Kingdom of God. But in the span of two days, all their hopes and dreams came crashing down to earth. God was dead. Their world was shattered. They were broken, numb.
Sometimes we feel that way too. Let’s be honest about this. Life isn’t always sunshine and flowers. Sometimes our dreams are shattered, leaving us broken, numb. We call to God for deliverance and all we hear is silence. It feels like God is dead.
Typically, at this point Christians too often say, “Cheer up. All is not lost. God works in mysterious ways—your prayers will be answered; you just have to wait on God’s perfect timing.”
…But not today. Today let’s acknowledge the emptiness. Let’s give space to our feelings of loss and despair. This Holy Sabbath, let us listen to the silence. Let us open up the raw, bleeding parts of our lives and admit that we have felt hurt, abused and disappointed. There are things that have not gone as we’d hoped. All of our dreams have not come true. Where is God in this?
Our scriptures give precedent for this. With the Psalmist we cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer; by night, but I find no rest” (Psalm 22).
God understands these emotions. 2,000 years ago, part of Godself was tortured and crucified. In Christ, God walked the way of suffering and defeat. God has felt the pain of rejection, the dark cloud of hopelessness. That weekend, all of the Divine wept with Christ’s disciples. When it was done, God rested.
My prayer is that you too can experience God’s rest. When life seems hopeless and dark, know that God feels that with you. When you feel rejected or defeated, know that God understands. And when it feels like God is dead, may God give you the courage to rest awhile. There is peace in the silence. Sometimes what we most need is to simply rest in God’s silence.