Living on Easter Sunday

Originally published May 2004.

It has been oft quoted that of the three major Christian observances, only one happened in the public eye. Christmas was first observed by a hill full of shepherds. Easter was shared by around 40 disciples and some Roman guards who knew the truth of what happened to Jesus' body but as far as we know, took the pay off instead of believing what they witnessed with their own eyes. Only Good Friday happened for all the world to see. The entire then world got to see God at His worst--abandoning Jesus' to that horrible death, not intervening, staying silent, and allowing the unfairness. Many called upon God the Father to intervene but He chose not to. Jesus cried out, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" Because God had. I'm sure those words hung in the air like they hang on this paper.

Thanks to Mel Gibson's portrayal of those darkest hours, we have a real picture of this. One that stays in your mind. As many have come to learn and appreciate, this is a God who knows and understands pain. When dealing with this life, that is comforting to many.

I have pain, heart pains, which I sometimes cannot even share with my husband. I walk day in and day out with this pain and for the most part God is silent. I pray and pray but nothing changes. I know all about prayer and most of the teachings on prayer. They don't help when you live with such silence. Don't go theological on me here about prayer. That only deepens the pain. When one has prayers go unanswered for so long, the theology only becomes "what ifs" . What if I prayed silently..." What if I prayed corporately..." What if I prayed prostrate..." What if I prayed three times a day..." You get it. Even those "what if prayers" don't get answered.

As C. S. Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed while grieving the death of his wife: "Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him...you will be--or so it feels--welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become." I identify with that shutout-ness.

In Good Friday we have a God who understands pain. In Easter we have the completion of that pain. We have the bigger picture. The day when all is made right in the world again. Justice has been finally served. God has the last word. God has scored the final victory.

But we don't live on Good Friday nor do we live on Easter. We are living on Easter Saturday and for the most part we see things through a glass darkly. We know the hope of things to come but in the meantime, God is an invisible God using mysterious ways to reach His people. Ways I don't understand all the time. Ways that leave me stumbling for answers when I get asked the hard questions like why does God not answer my prayers? Why is God silent? Why is God hidden? Why is God unfair?

God is fair. Life is not. When we try to equate that because God is fair so life should be fair we are setting ourselves up for great disappointment. No matter how we rationalize, God will sometimes seem unfair from the perspective of a person trapped in time. Only at the end of time, after we have attained God's level of viewing, after every evil has been punished or forgiven, every illness healed, and the entire universe restored--only then will fairness reign. Then we will understand what role is played by evil, and by the Fall, and by the natural law, in an 'unfair' event like the death of a child. Until then, we will not know, and only trust in a God who does know." (Disappointment with God, Philip Yancey)

I really like that quote. I really track with that quote. I can't wait for that day. I see so much of evil not being punished and prayers not being answered. I want to see that day come. That is when I get to live on Easter Sunday.

In the meantime while living on Easter Saturday, I wrestle with God. I am not one to sit back in faith and wait until the just thing is done. Others may be able to do that, I am not. I don't believe it is a lack of faith on my part. It is the action of my faith. It is the form my faith takes so I can live on Easter Saturday. Maybe it is wasted energy but I prefer to go away limping like Jacob rather than to shut God out. God may be silent but it is still time with God who walks with me on Easter Saturday.