So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18
I’ve been thinking a lot this weekend about living in the in-betweens. About how strange it can feel to be living after Jesus’ declaration of “It is Finished!” when so much of what He defeated doesn’t feel finished for us yet.
It started on Good Friday, when I realized how awkward we often find it in church to know quite how to celebrate the day – if “celebrate” is even the word. We feel somewhat obliged to be somber considering the day is commemorating our Saviour’s death, but it’s a bit hard to be too down about it considering the fact that we know what’s coming just a few short days later.
Then comes Saturday, the day wedged in between two holy days, when we’re kind of back to life as normal, yet perhaps with a slightly heightened predilection for spiritual things and time with family.
And finally, Easter Sunday, the grand finale, when we can properly break out and celebrate what all our pre-celebrations have been leading up to.
I think what’s interesting to me, is how those “in-between” days have changed in hindsight. How different they are from those first days that they commemorate.
On the original Good Friday, the disciples must have felt like their worlds were completely destroyed and finished. All that they’d given their lives to was dead. Their purpose and meaning and way that they made sense of the world – all they hoped in, their very foundation – had just crumbled before their eyes. They must have felt like they had absolutely nothing left in life.
What changed for them on Sunday? When their Christ showed them that death hadn’t been the end of Him after all? When He opened their eyes to His role in the story God had been foreshadowing for centuries before? When He showed them once and for all that He really was more than a mortal man (even though Friday had shown He truly was mortal enough to have His life taken away from Him as easily as you or I could)?
On Easter Sunday, they discovered that everything had happened on purpose, for a purpose. God really had been in control the whole time. Nothing had defeated God, nothing had defeated Jesus, and their hope was, in fact, placed in the Champion who’d gone about winning His victory in a way completely unlike any they’d ever imagined. Suddenly that fear they’d felt over the past couple days must have seemed a bit silly. All that crushing heartbreak, completely pointless. All their shame and humiliation? I’m sure they never even thought of it again.
I’ve been thinking about this and have been wondering if that’s how I’ll feel in heaven looking back on my own life. This world is so saturated with death, sickness, violence, antagonism, anxiety, hate, and fear. We’re all touched by these things in some way or another, and right now many of us are encountering them in greater measure than perhaps ever before. And I don’t mean to make it sound like they’re not a big deal and we can just brush them aside in the light of eternity. Death is a big deal. Sickness, violence, and hatred are all big deals. Jesus mourned over them and so should we.
But I think when we look back on these days after Christ’s ultimate victory, we’ll have a hard time remembering the fear we felt. I think all that anxiety and general upset will feel foreign and strange and pointless in the light of the magnitude of the victory we’ve witnessed.
That being said, that’s not the most encouraging part of the story for me.
So far, this has felt very like a Good Friday year to me. The shadow of death still hangs thick and heavy over it, and it’s hard to imagine life ever being the same again. Quite honestly, I know it won’t ever be entirely.
Like Jesus’ disciples on Good Friday and Saturday, at times in our lives we will find ourselves in periods of great sadness, fear, and confusion. It’s true, if we’re being strictly theological about all this, that there’s no reason for it. The victory is won, God really is in control all along, and nothing escapes His notice. But when Jesus came back after those three days, knowing full-well how terrified and heartbroken his disciples had been in His absence, despite Him telling them time and time again what was going to happen, how did He react to them?
With comfort. With mercy. With reassurance. And with the trust and confidence to put them in charge of His Church.
It’s true that we are told (almost) countless times throughout the Bible to “Be strong and courageous!”, but what a great comfort that God still loves the followers that sometimes aren’t. That He comforts those who mourn the deaths of those that eternally live. That He restores those that buckle under fears of that which He’s already defeated. That He holds out His pierced hands to those that struggle to hope under the weight of the disappointments that He’s hidden His greatest blessings in.
Wherever we feel we are in the Easter weekend journey, the post-Easter Jesus waits for us ready to heal, bind up our broken hearts, and strengthen our souls for all He has entrusted to us ahead.
We may not need to feel our brokenness in the light of what Christ has already accomplished for us, but when we do, He’s there to love and comfort and have mercy and restore us through it nonetheless.