The Saturday prior to Easter is one that we often overlook in our preparation for Resurrection Sunday. Holy Saturday is the day between Good Friday and Easter. It is the day after Jesus was crucified. It is the day he lay in the grave.
Church lectionary readings for Holy Saturday often include passages from Job, Lamentations, and Psalms that express loneliness, desperation, and feelings of abandonment. I love the sentiment of Psalm 42.
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
This Psalm communicates the feeling that God is out there somewhere, but the author just does not know where. It seems to say, “I need God now, but it feels like He is very far away.”
This is the feeling we embrace on Holy Saturday. The same feelings that must have overwhelmed followers of Jesus after seeing their master killed: confusion, loneliness, abandonment, purposelessness, defeat . . .
We are often encouraged in ignore, reject, or repress those negative thoughts and feeling, replacing them with expressions like “I’m too blessed to be stressed,” or “I’m too anointed to be disappointed.” Dark times, and dark feeling, though, are simply a part of the human condition; a part of the human experience which is expressed throughout Scripture, in the life of Jesus, in the experience of Jesus’ disciples, and in our lives over and over again.
Holy Saturday shows us that life is bad sometimes. It can feel like hope is gone and like darkness and death has won. Holy Saturday shows us that it is okay to feel this way. Life is full of loss and defeat. But joy does indeed come in the morning.