Wait in anguish no more.

Good Friday has ended and tomorrow we will celebrate Resurrection Sunday. Today we wait. We wait and we remember the events of the crucifixion and we recount the story of Christ’s resurrection to be celebrated at our sunrise services and Easter brunches tomorrow. But what about that Saturday?

What must that day have been like? What pain must have been felt?

My mind immediately goes to Peter because he’s my favorite disciple. How Peter must have replayed those denials of Jesus over and over in his head. How he must have thought, “if only I had done something, I could have saved him.” How he was awakened by the rooster crowing that Saturday morning and he remembered those words of Jesus telling him that even before the rooster crowed, Peter would deny him 3 times. And he did. How he would be haunted by the sounds of a rooster for the rest of his days. Don’t you know that in those moments on that Saturday that Peter and the other 10 were in complete anguish, completely unsure of what they would do next?

Do you ever think about the shame and guilt and pain that was felt by Judas as those 30 pieces of silver jingled as he ran back to the Temple to try to take it all back? Jesus had not even been crucified yet, only handed over to Pilate at this point according to Matthew’s gospel yet he was already full of shame. Matthew 27 tells us that when the chief priests and elders refused to reverse the deal made with Judas, to take back the money, and free Jesus as he begged, Judas threw the 30 pieces of silver to the ground in the temple and went and hanged himself. Even the chief priests would not take back the money because they saw it as blood money and they used the money for a field to bury strangers, calling it the Field of Blood. The money exchanged for Jesus’ life was used to prepare a field for the burial of strangers. I can’t help but see that as the way in which Jesus redeemed even Judas’ betrayal in caring for those seen as outcasts/strangers by the Jews.

When we read about Jesus’ burial in each of the gospels, we are introduced to Joseph of Arimathea. John 19:38 describes him as a disciple of Jesus who kept it secret for fear of the Jews. He went to Pilate and asked for the body and then provided a proper burial for his Jesus. Can you imagine the shame of always keeping his devotion to Jesus a secret due to his fear of the Jews? For staying silent? For never speaking out boldly in belief? As he went back home after securing Jesus in linen and placing his body in the tomb, how he must have wept.

Matthew’s gospel places Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” at the tomb for the burial of Jesus. Much research has went into which women were actually at the tomb and you can read more about that here. This is of no surprise to me. That was their nature, to serve Jesus to the very end in ensuring that he was given a proper burial. Luke’s account in chapter 23, verses 55-56 reads, “The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointments. On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.” They rested. They recognized and observed the Sabbath according to the commandment. They didn’t work. They didn’t keep themselves busy as I would be inclined to do just to take their minds off the events they had just witnessed. They rested. And don’t you know they felt the anguish in the waiting? Don’t you know they wept? They grieved their Jesus on that Sabbath.

Today as we anticipate the celebration of the resurrection tomorrow, may we be reminded that just as the anguish in the waiting experienced by those closest to Jesus was redeemed that Sunday morning, so is ours. We do not have to sit in our pain because we know the Savior who conquered death and can wait, not in anguish, but in hope and expectation for his promised return again.

Maybe you find yourself in a season of waiting. Waiting for an answered prayer, waiting on healing, waiting for answers. Wait not in anguish but in joy because Jesus has proven himself faithful in the text of the gospels and in our own lives as those redeemed by the blood of the lamb of God who was slain. Wait in anguish no more. He has risen! And he will come again!

I encourage you to spend some time today reflecting on the pain felt by those who were mourning their Jesus only to be redeemed upon Jesus’ resurrection. All Sons & Daughters’ song “Buried in the Grave” is a great song about that Saturday between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. It’s my favorite to listen to on repeat on this day each year and I pray that it encourages you heart today as well.

It’s about the heart work…

There are FEW things more special to me than seeing college students give their time to serve the Lord in missions and getting to serve alongside them. It’s so much more than just the work that is being done but the work in their hearts and within our ministry that is being done through the Holy Spirit as we walk in obedience.

It’s the deep conversations had while painting at an orphanage where chains are broken and hearts are set free. It’s the surrender of hearts that’s found in a quiet time with the Lord at a picnic table before the physical work for the day has begun. It’s the unity that’s formed among our team through the vulnerable sharing of hearts during worship each night. It’s the unlikely friendships that are formed through sweat and blisters on our hands as we shovel concrete and dig postholes. It’s in the prayers shared around a circle for one another, for the people we are serving while we’re away and for the hearts back home that need to hear the Gospel when we return. It’s in the voices and hands raised giving praise to the King of Kings who works all things, redeems all things, and restores all things for His glory and our good.

There’s hard work that’s done through blood and sweat but it’s the heart work that’s done through the moving of the Holy Spirit among the team that can only be fully understood by going yourself. So parents, don’t be afraid of the commitments that your students desire to make but trust that the Lord who created them and who began a good work in them is bringing it to completion. Support your students as they desire to give more of themselves for the sake of the Gospel. Church, give so that more students can go and experience the fullness of joy as they serve in missions. Brothers and sisters, link arms and lay hands over one another as they move forward in taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. As they run their race, join them stride by stride by using the gifts that you’ve been given through your praying, giving, sending and going.

As a college student myself, a popular song moved me to tears each time I would lead it as I looked out on my friends who were making bold strides to take the Gospel to those who had never heard the name of Jesus. The second verse sings, “I see a generation rising up to take their place with selfless faith. I see a near revival stirring as we pray and seek. We’re on our knees.” I can’t help but believe in my heart that what I experienced in serving alongside 26 students this week was fulfillment of those words. College students today are making bold leaps of faith in following after what God is calling them to do instead of what the world and their families say they should do. It’s contagious and it’s a movement that would serve the church well to stand behind and push them forward as they step out in faith to proclaim the name of Jesus. The American dream will do nothing but leave us empty, seeking more of the world but the Kingdom dream that is being cultivated in the hearts of today’s college students will only give more of what this world truly needs – the love and the hope of Jesus Christ.