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Apr 4, 2015

I Will Wait – Holy Saturday Reflections

I Will Wait

The memory of my suffering and homelessness is bitterness and poison. I can’t help but remember and am depressed. I call all this to mind—therefore, I will wait. Certainly the faithful love of the LORD hasn’t ended; certainly God’s compassion isn’t through! They are renewed every morning. Great is your faithfulness. I think: The LORD is my portion! Therefore, I’ll wait for him.
—Lamentations 3:19–24

Certainly the faithful love of the LORD hasn’t ended!

Certainly God’s compassion isn’t through!

I will wait.

Lamentations 3:19–24 is one of the scripture readings for Holy Saturday, or Easter Eve. Four years ago this spring, I felt the despair and hope of these words. Sitting on our back porch in Belton, Texas, I explained to Daphne that I knew God was with me in my suffering. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what God was doing. I didn’t know how God would bring light out of my darkness. But I trusted God.

A day or two before, I was at a leadership conference in Dallas. This is where my world fell apart. I sat in Abuelo’s, a Mexican restaurant, with several friends and colleagues when panic consumed me. For no apparent reason, my heart and mind began racing, my adrenaline spiked, and my body was paralyzed with fear. I wanted to escape, but where? The terror was not external. It was internal. There was no escape. I was seized with an overwhelming feeling of doom. The world around me was just fine. It was the world within that was disintegrating.

This was the day my panic attacks started. It would take many months before they gradually subsided. Days, weeks, and months passed with no relief. I tried one medication after another. A couple of them made me lethargic. I could hardly get out of bed. One of them had the opposite effect. It increased my anxiety so much that I couldn’t sleep, even with sleeping pills. I would lie awake at night with panic coursing through my mind and body. It was a nightmare. At least, I desperately wanted it to be a nightmare. I wanted to wake up, but I couldn’t.

If I was not already depressed, I was definitely depressed now. Everything was darkness. Would I ever be able to function like I used to? Would I eventually have to quit work? It seemed like I missed at least one or two days a week, either because of the side effects of the medication or the depression and anxiety or both. What would this do to my family? Our income? How could I be a good husband? How could I be the parent I longed to be when I couldn’t enjoy my children or be fully present to them?

In the middle of it all, I still trusted God. I was terrified. But I trusted. Even if I never returned to normal, whatever normal is, I knew God was in the darkness with me. God would eventually turn my mourning into dancing—if not in this life, then in the next.

Why did I trust God?

I trusted God because this is what God does: God brings light out of darkness. God brings peace out of chaos. God transforms death into new life.

Eventually, I found a medication that helped me rise out of the darkness. Life is not the same as it was. It never will be. And that’s OK. It’s OK because God’s faithful love has not ended. God’s compassion isn’t through with me yet. So, I wait.

Certainly the faithful love of the LORD hasn’t ended!
Certainly God’s compassion isn’t through!
I will wait.

Today is Holy Saturday. Easter Eve. This is the day Jesus’ body rested in the grave. This is the day when Jesus’ family and friends sat together in darkness. On that Saturday, there must have been a lot of pain, confusion, fear, and sadness.

Jesus—a son, a brother, a friend, the Messiah—had been killed in a gruesome way.

I can’t begin to imagine Mary’s grief. She witnessed her own people maliciously reject her firstborn. She watched Roman soldiers taunt and torture her child. She stood at the foot of the cross as her son died in agony.

Now, he is gone. His body—empty, lifeless—rests in a tomb. Darkness.

I wonder what it was like for the disciples. Most of them fled when Jesus was arrested. They hid. One of them, a dear friend, had lied about ever knowing Jesus. Did he wallow in remorse that Saturday?

Another one, a disciple named Judas, hanged himself. Guilt and despair overtook him.

The Savior died. A son crucified. Hopes crumbled. Friends scattered. A Messiah failed—or, did God fail the Messiah?

I can’t imagine their darkness.

But we know the rest of the story, don’t we?

Sunday is coming. Easter is near.

If you find yourself in darkness, I hope you will remember this:

The faithful love of the LORD hasn’t ended. God’s compassion isn’t through.

So, I encourage you to wait.

Easter is coming!

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