Darkness and Peace

He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25:8, ESV)

Death. It is all around us. Physical death is inescapable and leaves us feeling the loss of those we love. Our childhood hopes and dreams die in the twists and turns of life, often with no sense of meaning or answers to why. Injuries disrupt our bodies, leaving us watching from the sidelines. Broken relationships throw us into avalanches of heartache.

Even within the context of our golfing lives, we experience the sting of death when our unmet expectations leave the taste of failure as we walk off the eighteenth green.

When we walk into Saturday, Jesus welcomes our tears, our honest words that we are not okay, our shame, our confessions, and our grief and sorrow.This sounds dramatic, but if we are honest, it is all true. Even as I write these words, I feel the weight of death in my chest as my body remembers similar experiences. Cancer has ravaged my family. I find it hard to remember my childhood dreams. A chronic back injury limits my body. I hold the loss of a broken engagement and changing friendships. I have more memories of failure than success in my golf career—from ending a round with a double bogey all the way to losing in a playoff for a win. Death weaves itself in and out of our lives in big and small ways.

Death came for Jesus too. His death was not without agony, loss, heartache, or unmet expectations, for him and for his followers. But Jesus knew it was God’s plan. Isaiah prophesied long before Jesus lived that his last gulp of breath would swallow up death and become the way, the truth, and the life. Death had to come before resurrection so that our tears and shame could be redeemed for eternity.

This is the good news of the Easter story. Good Friday marks the day Jesus died on the cross while Easter Sunday celebrates his resurrection. But what about Saturday, that day in between death and resurrection hope? What do we do with the pain of the crashing waves of death that pound the shores of our hearts in the silence of Saturday?

Such Saturdays are hard and our flesh desires to skip over them. This is the space in our lives where we experience suffering and we are left with two choices. We can wait in anticipation of death and shalom forever shattered, or we can wait in anticipation of hope for shalom restored.

We choose death when we refuse to speak honestly about the pain we feel as a result of loss, harm, failure, and disappointments. We clench our fists at God and death has the final victory. Waiting in the anticipation of hope invites Jesus to walk with us into our Saturdays (the valley of the shadow of death). Walking inhabits the willingness to move in an intentional direction. It takes time and energy. When we walk into Saturday, Jesus welcomes our tears, our honest words that we are not okay, our shame, our confessions, and our grief and sorrow. It feels like death, but shalom draws us to the other side.

Are you aware of where death has come for you? Today I invite you to take a step into your silent Saturday with the assurance of these words from the Apostle Paul: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55, 57)

Walk with confidence because death has been swallowed up forever and resurrection hope lives.

Tracy Hanson
March 17, 2016
Copyright 2016 Links Players International

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