The Day After…

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The Tomb was Still Sealed

How do you go on after a great loss? How do you place one foot in front of the other when your whole being is engulfed in a sadness that is so palpable as to render you immobile?

You sit in a spiritual stupor. The well of your tears has gone dry. Your soul feels desiccated, bone dry, as lifeless as the one you mourn.

It’s helpful, I think, on this day after the cross – perhaps on a day of your own personal loss – to reflect on the magnitude of the loss of the One whom the disciples loved – the One upon whom they had lavished their hopes and dreams, even as Mary had lavished Him with extravagant nard a few days before (in preparation for His burial, as Jesus noted).

In a way, this day (it’s called Black Saturday in some Christian traditions) was even darker than the day before. On that day – the day of the crucifixion – the shock of His death may well have been so incomprehensible as to seem unreal. A day of denial. But on this day, the reality had begun to set in. The pain, the irredeemable anguish of broken promises (how were they, the disciples, to rule with a dead Jesus?) The utter emptiness they all felt would have stripped them of any pretense of perseverance. All was lost on this darkest of days.

But God gives grace – sometimes in the form of a spiritual/emotional anesthetic, to dull the piercing pain. He allows us to endure through the strength that only He can provide, even though we are not consciously aware of His tender mercies at the time. We who live in a post resurrection world, are the blessed ones, because we know what happened next. But these dear disciples lacked the advantage of an informed perspective. They were trapped for those few hours in the middle – after the cross, prior to the resurrection. In that crucible, I trust that the Lord’s sustaining grace was made available, despite their having abandoned Him, despite Peter’s denials.

In the darkness of their despair they experienced, as none have since, the tomb – a kind of walking death. We can’t know how the Lord ministered to them in those hours. But I can imagine that they would have reflected on His love for them. That, even in the midst of their weeping, they would have recalled how much He loved them – grateful for all that He had been to each of them. Perhaps those memories would have kindled a tiny spark of hope – a hope that would become a searing reality the next morning.

Let these words encourage you. When all appears to be lost – it isn’t. The defining characteristic for the believer in the risen Christ is hope. Because we inhabit the world as it became the day after this darkest of days. Our days may be filled with trials, but they are mitigated by our sure faith that all is not lost. Because the tomb is empty.

“Love’s as Warm as Tears”

C. S. Lewis

Love’s as warm as tears,
Love is tears:
Pressure within the brain,
Tension at the throat,
Deluge, weeks of rain,
Haystacks afloat,
Featureless seas between
Hedges, where once was green.

Love’s as fierce as fire,
Love is fire:
All sorts–infernal heat
Clinkered with greed and pride,
Lyric desire, sharp-sweet,
Laughing, even when denied,
And that empyreal flame
Whence all loves came.

Love’s as fresh as spring,
Love is spring:
Bird-song hung in the air,
Cool smells in a wood,
Whispering ‘Dare! Dare!’
To sap, to blood,
Telling ‘Ease, safety, rest,
Are good; not best.’

Love’s as hard as nails,
Love is nails:
Blunt, thick, hammered through
The medial nerves of One
Who, having made us, knew
The thing He had done,
seeing (with all that is)
Our cross, and His.

~C.S. Lewis, Poems, (1964)

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