When Darkness Seems to Hide His Face: A Holy Week Meditation

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“… Nevertheless (and that is a good resurrection word), the strong love of God always has the final word. Nothing can hold it back from working out its purposes. Not only does the Holy One experience our suffering as though it were his own, he is also relentlessly seeking to bring light and life where there seems to be only darkness and death. When this happens for us, even in a small way, we experience a “little Easter.”… Just about any time we are surprised with new possibilities for life and healing in the midst of brokenness and decay, there is a “little Easter” that gives us a glimpse of the resurrection power of God’s love made manifest in the crucified and risen Jesus.” 

This year during Holy Week, we wanted to share these words from South African pastor Trevor Hudson. A few Rooted writers will share some “little Easters” of their own. We hope these “glimpses of the resurrection power of God’s love” will enlighten the eyes of your faith as you look toward the Cross and to the empty tomb.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed.

Perhaps you, like me, find yourself today in a personal circumstance that makes it hard to see the redemptive work of God. Or maybe you are weary of the heaviness of the broken world and trying to make sense of the pain you see all around us.

This week my close community has been rocked by a tragic sudden death. I have spent time praying with a friend who has a child struggling with relentless physical and emotional pain. I have wept for the horror of what the people of Ukraine are enduring.  There are days or weeks when the “little Easter” seems far away or even impossible.

So, where do we go when the light is hard to find and the “little Easter” in our own particular situation seems so far from reality?

We go to the reality of Easter itself. For, dear reader, Easter is true. And if Easter is true, then we have the most explicit, tangible, graspable display of the character of God. Here is what we know about our God:

Resurrection is central to the character of God, and therefore central to the story and circumstances of my life.

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22).

Take time this week to revisit Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. The pain endured by Jesus was so deep and so encompassing that there is no suffering we endure that He has not experienced in a more profound way. Yet, the Lord has restored the deepest pain with the greatest joy through the resurrection of Jesus. Though rejected and despised, Jesus is the cornerstone, the sure foundation my life. Any understanding of the character of God must begin in knowing Him as a God who redeems. This is the way our God has operated, is operating, and will operate in my life and yours.

God is the primary actor in the restoration of all things, and restoration is accomplished in His way, in His time. Therefore, I can trust him in unresolved pain.

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:22-23).

The Lord has promised to work all things together for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).  He promises that He will do the work, not that he will equip us to work hard to make things right. Redemption is the Lord’s to accomplish, and He will do it.

This gives us immense freedom to rest and trust God in the midst of deep pain. Nothing can separate me from His love and He is indeed making all things new, whether I can make sense of it or not. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, for the trajectory of the cross is beautifully absurd. The restoration of your own life circumstances will be accomplished by God in His way.

God is the Meaning-Maker. Therefore, I can hold pain and joy at the same time.

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.  This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:22-24).

Our certainty in the resurrection of Jesus also gives us the freedom to hold pain and joy in tension, while knowing that making sense of it is the Lord’s doing. We are living in the constant tension between what God has already accomplished and what He will accomplish one day, a tension that is displayed through joy and sorrow present in every relationship and every hour of our days.

We long to make sense of these tensions, to find meaning in what we do not understand. We are desperate to have pain be purposeful. But, because of the resurrection of Jesus, we have the freedom to experience joy without resolution of our pain.

My nine year old daughter has been wrestling this week with “good” in Good Friday. The name seems so wrong for a day of such pain. And she is right. Friday can only be good in the light of Sunday. God has resolved the greatest tension of all, which gives me the freedom to hold joy and pain together in my own life as I wait for God himself to make sense and meaning of the whole story.

In his mercy, God brings us joy without requiring anything of us at all.

On this same week filled with so much pain, there have been moments of pure love with my kids, deep connection with dear friends, beauty bursting through with the arrival of spring, the birth of my next door neighbor’s beautiful baby girl this morning. My dear friend, who is caring for her sick child, reminded me of her deep joy in remembering how God has prepared her this particular suffering. His resurrection work in her life is a joyful anchor in the midst of the storm. That, she said, and a big bag of cheetos!

I pray you feel the freedom to let the pain and the joy of your life exist together this week, along with the deep peace that comes from knowing that God himself is making sense of the disconnect.

For we grieve the horrific death of Jesus on the cross, and truly rejoice in His resurrection— and by it we see clearly the very form of the God who loves us. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous indeed! All you need do is let this God of restoration carry the burden of your life today.

“See from His head, His hands, His feet,

Sorrow and love flow mingled down!

Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,

Or thorns compose so rich a crown?” –Isaac Watts, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Please see also our featured podcast: “Little Easters” with Robert Row.

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