This past weekend, Christians around the world gathered to talk about, and to celebrate, the hope that we have.
Well, most Christians.
They stayed home not because they don't want the hope of Christ; that's not it. Nor is it that they don't believe in the hope of the resurrection; overwhelmingly, they do.
But if we're being honest, sometimes...sometimes that hope feels like a cruel joke, even for the person who has spent years believing in it.
It feels like such a short time for us. We hear it in the voices all around us. "It's Easter already?" "Wow. This year is just flying by." We know, on Good Friday, that we are just two sleeps away from the resurrection, that the grave doesn't last forever, that death is about to meet its defeat. It feels like sometimes, we blink on Friday, and Sunday's not a-comin'; it's here. Just like that.
Unless you're living a life where it's been Saturday for oh, so long.
Unless you're living a season when you remember everything that Jesus said, know everything that He promised, believe in every ounce of hope that He's given...but it...it doesn't feel like Sunday's a-comin' any more. If it is, it's not happening tomorrow.
There are those among us - and I confess to you that this year, I am one of them - who have lived a thousand weeks without a Sunday. A thousand nights without that hope in the morning. Desperately holding on, desperately clinging. Knowing that one day, it's coming; believing that with all of our hearts.
But today, again, is not that day.
And it just gets harder and harder to believe that tomorrow will be, either.
It's one of those things that's tough to describe because the minute you say that you don't believe tomorrow will be the day, others are quick to accuse you of having lost your faith. Or failing to believe. Or having given up. Others are quick to think that you don't believe in Sunday any more.
I want to tell you, from my personal experience, that that's not necessarily true. In a lot of cases, it's not true at all. Those of us living in a deep, dark Saturday - a long Saturday - want Sunday more than anyone. We believe in Sunday more than anyone. We know it's coming; we've read the story and we live on this side of the resurrection and we know. It's just that...well, Saturday is real, too.
It doesn't take much for me to believe that the longest day in human history was that first silent Saturday. That first day of rest after death, when it looked like it was all over and nothing could be done. When the people had no inkling of a resurrection, had no idea that it was even possible to walk out of a grave. Well, they'd seen it once, in Lazarus, but who could ever think their voice powerful enough to call Jesus Himself out of the grave?
That Saturday, that day when you don't know what's coming next, when it seems like you've lost everything, when the whole universe is falling apart...it's a long Saturday. It is a grueling, agonizing, drawn-out Saturday.
And for those of us who, in this season, can't just move on to Sunday, I think that's a good reminder that we're in good company. Eleven men, and many more, who loved Jesus dearly and believed so very much in everything He is, had trouble with hope on that Saturday.
This past weekend, many Christians gathered to celebrate the hope that they have on Sunday. But not all of us. Because it doesn't seem to matter what the calendar says or how quickly the year is passing or that it only looks like two sleeps 'til Sunday....
For some of us, today, it's still Saturday. Sunday, we know, is a-comin', but this ain't it.
(But probably not.)