The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. 56 Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.
On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment (Luke 23:55-56, NRSV).
Today, we sit with Jesus's confused and heartbroken disciples on Silent Saturday. Jesus is in the tomb, and all the evidence suggests that Rome, the religious leaders, and the enemy have won. It is a Sabbath day, so stillness and rest are "commands." Yet, this Sabbath day stings for those who followed Jesus. They devoted themselves to him, watched him perform unimaginable miracles, listened to him teach in ways they had never heard and spent years coming to know him personally. Now, he is dead in a tomb. This Sabbath day is utterly silent and dark.
Many of us know that feeling of loss all to well. A loved one is suddenly no longer present because of distance or death. It feels like a part of your very being has been lost, and the grief and suffering seem overwhelming. The loss appears like an uninvited and intrusive guest who lingers far too long. Today, we can identify with disciples in their weaknesses, struggle, and loss. They, too, knew what it felt like to experience the silence of God. Yet, God's silence is not his absence.
If you have ever gone through deep suffering with trusted people at your side, then you know the comfort of presence without words. In the silence, you are free to weep and ask grief-filled questions without fear of abandonment, and those with you reassure you that they are there for you. Words often fall way short, yet presence goes a long way.
Because it is a silent Saturday, I will not offer too many more words. This line, however, from A.J. Swoboda struck me:
"Friday was death, Sunday was hope, but Saturday was that seemingly ignored middle day between when God occupied a dirty grace in a little garden outside of Jerusalem. Saturday is about waiting, about uncertainty, about not knowing what'll happen. Saturday is ambiguity (A Glorious Dark)."
If you are facing a loss or situation in which you feel God is silent, do not despair but wait patiently. Allow the presence of the Spirit to comfort you as you pray, read the Scriptures, and confide in trustworthy friends. Be honest about your moments of ambiguity, and remember that Sunday is indeed coming. Take this day to slow down, rest, and reflect upon how, even now, God is working behind the scenes. We can take comfort in his redemptive work as we rest well on Silent Saturday.