The Painful Middle

I’m writing this in the waning hours of “Silent Saturday”. That awful day between the death of Christ and the dawning of a Sunday that would change everything. A day when God seemed silent and perhaps silenced. As I anticipate Easter I find myself running to Sunday a bit too quickly without pausing to realize what Saturday is trying to teach me.

The middle is hard. It is painful, dark, and full of doubt.

A wise brother said too me a few months ago, “We forget that when we read the accounts of redemption in the Bible that we have the benefit of knowing how it turned out. We forget that the middle is mess.

Pause to imagine yourself in the shoes of:

  • David: just a fugitive being hunted by King Saul.
  • Moses: After Pharoh changed his mind the 5th or 6th time and seeing no deliverance just plague after plague.
  • Peter: After seeing Christ die and facing the truth that you denied knowing him 3 times

Those aren’t scenes that make the final cut of our victory narrative. They are however where God does some of his most important work.

When you hear the testimony of someone delivered after years of alcohol and drug abuse and see how God has used them it’s easy to praise God for showing his power. But what if you were there for day 2 of detox?

Would you have doubts? Would you wonder about this being truly God’s plan? Would you consider doing the logical thing to end the pain?

This middle is where doubts and fears challenge the core of our faith. This is the place where all our accumulated knowledge of God isn’t enough to anchor us and we are left with we really believe? 

Which is exactly the point.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (‭Matthew‬ ‭5‬:‭3‬ ESV)

Poor in spirit might be expressed as reaching the end of yourself. Knowing that no amount of self-will or self-discipline will overcome this struggle. When you are left with nothing but crying out to God and pleading for mercy, grace, and divine power.

Don’t miss that God hasn’t even answered yet in this “Silent Saturday”. I can imagine Peter pleading and distraught as he wept this day. Feeling nothing but fear, loneliness, and shame. 

BUT – Was God silent?

NO! Hell was trembling because the very Son of God had come to declare victory over death because the price of sin had been paid. This day was the day the Devil lost. It was the turning point of all eternity.

And tomorrow morning when day breaks that Son of God will be raised by the Holy Spirit and be exalted by the Father. And what does the Angel say? 

But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.” (‭Mark‬ ‭16‬:‭7‬ ESV)

And Peter.

Those 2 words are astounding, they are the Gospel. 

Hold fast my brothers and sisters. 

The storms and trials of this world can crush us and we can’t see how this chapter ends. God can and is working to make you more like him. So even in the painful middle we can believe that God is Sovreign, loving, and at work.

He may actually be doing His most important work.

I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’” (‭Zechariah‬ ‭13‬:‭9‬ NLT)