Written By: Scott Savage
If you’ve ever read the Bible, you may have thought to yourself, “I wonder what it felt like to be there. To see and hear that miraculous moment.”
This week, I realized we all have an opportunity to feel what the disciples felt on Holy Saturday - the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
The disciples faced an unexpected death - the death of what they thought following Jesus was going to mean. Their teacher was killed. Jesus was unjustly tried and executed. There would be no revolution, no overthrow of the Romans, no hope, and seemingly no future. What happened to them was something they didn’t see coming.
While staying at home might not be as severe a disappointment for many of us, we are all being challenged to face the reality of death this spring - the death of what we thought 2020 would be for us.
What has died so far for us?
Do you remember the resolutions you made way back in January? One of my goals was a night without kids each quarter with my wife. We’ve already canceled two of those.
Canceling some plans are harder than others. When we told our son he couldn’t have friends over for his 8th birthday, he wept.
Our sense of control.
A close friend is waiting for his employer to determine if there’s enough money or business to keep him employed. Talk about a powerless feeling.
Our sense of certainty.
Multiple times during this period, I’ve been certain about a decision only for a breaking news alert or government announcement to shatter my certainty.
When we go to the store, we cannot always buy what we have on our list, and when we do, we often can’t buy all we want.
Our hold on mental and emotional health.
One mental health hotline recently reported a 900% increase in calls. Personally, my anxiety has kept me up at night.
Some of us are facing literal death. Friends and family members are contracting COVID-19; they’re quarantining, being hospitalized, and going on ventilators.
Others of us, though, are facing the death of life as we knew it. Millions have lost jobs. High school seniors are losing their proms, spring sports seasons, and graduations. Business owners are losing their financial futures.
In the face of this loss, what can we do?
1. We can grieve.
My counselor wrote these words in a post this morning, “That feeling you can't quite put your finger on? It's probably grief. You're feeling the loss of what once was or what won't be.” For me, once I named my feeling “grief,” the path forward became clearer. What can be named, can be healed.
If you’re struggling to name your feelings, check out this awesome tool called the Feeling Wheel:
2. We can journal what was lost.
Like a funeral chronicles the life and impact of the person who was lost, journaling what was lost provides us with an opportunity to face those losses and acknowledge them.
3. We can talk about it.
When someone dies, we tell stories about them and reminisce in order to process the loss and heal. Whether on a video chat or phone call, talking about the losses we’re experiencing right now can be very helpful.
As we turn and face the losses, we gain the strength to consider, “what could come to live in its place?”
If our vision of what 2020 was going to be has died, then what could come to life instead?
1. Healing and strength.
In Psalm 147:3, we read, “God heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”As Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “the world breaks all of us, and afterward, many of us are strong in those places.” Hemingway wasn’t a follower of Jesus, but in light of how Jesus has healed me, his words here ring true.
2. Intimacy with God.
Psalm 34:18 tells us, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”Jesus promised his followers that those who mourned would be comforted by Him. In Jeremiah 29, God promised his people that “if you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” In Psalm 30, David shared how God had “turned my mourning into dancing.” While none of us look forward to pain and adverse circumstances, we often find God’s presence feels the most profound in those moments.
3. New Beginning.
You may have lost a lot in the last month. When 2020 is said and done, you may have lost even more.
But, we serve a God who specializes in life after death. For the resurrection to take place, there has to be death first. Jonathan Martin has noted, “To let go of control and certainty feels like death, but it's the only way to follow Jesus into resurrection.” In John 11, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.”
Our hope, shaped by Easter and now shining in the face of COVID-19, is that all we’ve lost in death will not be greater than all Christ will make new.
We must face and go through death because, without it, there can be no resurrection. We serve a God who says, “Look, I am making everything new!”