• Retief Burger

The waiting room DAY 16

Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint Isaiah 40:27-31 Waiting. None of us likes it. It tests our patience, our resilience and our stamina. Whether it be waiting in a long queue, for a marriage partner, for a child, for a promotion, for a cure or for a lockdown to end, it can be very frustrating. Today, according to church tradition is called “Holy Saturday’. That in-between day. Jesus died on the Friday and we know what happened on Sunday, so why not get on with the celebrations? The problem is that Scripture tells the story differently. The Father did not raise Jesus directly from the cross. There was a day in between. A pause. A spacer. The waiting room. What exactly happened in that day we can only speculate and deduct from Scripture. Between the cross and the empty tomb, Jesus’s soul entered the state of death. The Westminster Larger Catechism, in the answer to question 50, describes it this way “Christ’s humiliation after his death consisted in his being buried, and continuing in the state of the dead, and under the power of death till the third day.” Jesus remained under the power of death. He did not get rescued or resurrected immediately. His human body lay in Joseph’s tomb. His human soul was in the realm of the dead. The waiting room. but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength I can identify with the waiting room. All of us have been in some way stuck in waiting. Waiting for a promise to be fulfilled. Waiting for a season to pass. Waiting for an outcome when everything looks dead and buried. Literally. During the years that I struggled with depression there were moments where I thought I would never get out of that pit. In the words of Isaiah as quoted above, Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted. That was me. And yet God raised me up on wings of eagles time and time again. All I could do was wait. But here’s the thing - God’s waiting room is always filled with hope! We now know how the Easter story ends, but for those early disciples it was totally different. Jesus was dead. Could this really be the end of him? Yes, he had predicted that he would rise on the third day. But the disciples in their grief either forgot that promise or no longer believed it (or perhaps had never really understood it). Yet in God, hope is never dead and waiting is never passive. The word for wait, used in Isaiah 40:31 can also be translated as hope. And hope does not disappoint. May this Holy Saturday encourage us who are facing a different death, an uncertainty and a fear, that Sunday is coming. Jesus will be raised from the dead and this same God who raised Him from the dead, can and will raise you up again. Just wait. Just hope. Stay safe and stand strong. Retief Burger

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