Before there was Sunday, there was Friday.
Do you remember what it was like growing up as a child in those pre and early school years? For most children life starts out pretty optimistic. They have a positive view of the world. Kids are full of hope and big dreams. They are going to be a princess or a superhero, a professional football player or a policeman! They walk around most of the time, believing that “everyone loves me and anything is possible!”. And why wouldn’t they?
Our eldest son, Judah, has always been super optimistic about the world around him. He sees the best in everything and everyone. He lived, for most of his early years, in his imagination. He believed he had laser eyes and could fly – like he really believed he could!
With that in mind, Judah loved the Narnia movies. After watching The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe we had to have many sword fights where the loser would be brought back to life by using the “Healing Cordial” that Lucy gets given by Father Christmas. Just a little drop and away we go! The fight continues.
Well, one day, when I was hugely pregnant with our second boy, Rocky, we discovered a mouse in our house. Now this mouse used to give me nightmares and Steve was instructed to get rid of it any which way he could. But we just could not catch this mouse. So we had to resort to the tried and true snap and trap, old school mouse trap. Well it only took a day or two and Steve entered the garage to see poor little mousy was no more. However, before he could close the garage door and discretely dispose of him, Judah walks in behind him to see the mouse.
You should have seen the look on his face. Then with child-like faith he says, “But we will just give him healing cordial aye?” And there it was, the conversation we knew we would one day have to have. The one where we explain to him that healing cordial wasn’t going to work this time.
Let’s be honest, we all face moments like this.
It’s as though we have gone round the back of Disneyland and seen Mickey with his head off, having an argument with Donald.
It’s the moments in life that threatened to rock our faith. It’s the moments when our childhood faith is tested by real life adult happenings. It’s the moments when we begin to question things, when we no longer have all the answers and uncertainty creeps in.
It’s those moments where we feel like giving up, like we are just not sure how we are going to get through. We don’t see the light at the end and right now the pain we feel seems like too much to bear.
Have you ever had those kinds of moments? When you literally shake your fist at the heavens and scream “WHY? WHY GOD WHY?”
On Good Friday I am often drawn to think about the disciples. Because I think that Friday would have been one of those moments for them.
I think that even though he told them this would happen and even though they knew the prophesies, I don’t think anything could have prepared them for their loss.
He was their Saviour, He was their Healer, their Redeemer, their Leader, their Teacher. He was their friend. And on that Friday their pain, discouragement, disappointment and grief would have been overwhelming.
And then they faced Saturday, where I am sure all of their doubts and all of their questions and all of their uncertainties would have been surfacing and wrestling for attention.
On that Saturday, they didn’t have the benefit of hindsight that we have today. We have read the end of the story, we know the punchline, we know that in two days, Sunday is coming.
But sometimes, the Fridays and the Saturdays in our lives can become so all consuming and so overwhelming that Sunday just seems too far off.
And so the question is, where is God in my Friday or my Saturday?
Three things I hope will be helpful to you:
1. God is at work in you.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4
It is in the most difficult seasons of my life that I have built the most strength, patience, character and resilience.
God is always more interested in your character than your comfort because he knows that the Fridays and the Saturdays in our lives build character in you that the comfort-zone never could.
Your BEING will always trump your DOING because God is more interested in the process than the progress.
2. God is at work for you.
We recently bumped into a lady that my husband’s family knew many years ago. She began asking Steve what he was up to now and he went on to tell her that he was now leading a large and growing church in our area. She was absolutely blown away, and said: “I can’t believe that you were one of the little baby twins that I used to pray over every week”.
You see, Steve is a twin, and one day his mum was at the supermarket and was having a really tough day. A lady, also just at the supermarket, approached her and said, “Excuse me, but you look like you could do with some help”. She introduced herself and offered her time. So from that day on she would come over every week and just help. She would do laundry and groceries and cooking and nappy changing. And she would pray…over the two little boys who lay sleeping in their cots. Little did she know the journey that would take them on.
After our recent encounter with her I said to Steve that what amazes me about his story was that even though he found faith at 18 years old, God was never absent from his life. From the time he was a baby through his primary and high school years, there were moments like this one where you can clearly see God at work in the background. Strategically orchestrating moments and encounters which have all culminated in making him who he is today.
I don’t know how absent you feel God is in your circumstance but can I reassure you, He is working in the background, behind the scenes to orchestrate moments and encounters that will one day be revealed to you.
3. God is at work through you.
It is your biggest mess that becomes your greatest message.
When the trial becomes the triumph it is less about the circumstance and more about the God who overcame in the circumstance.
There is a passage about another dead man in the bible, named Lazarus. When Lazarus first became ill, his sisters Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus – “the one you love is sick”. But Jesus didn’t come, Lazarus died, and it wasn’t until four days later that Jesus showed up. (Ever felt like Jesus is a little slow on the uptake?)
Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him,[c] and he was deeply troubled. 3“Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 3But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?” Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 4And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” John 11: 30-44
What I have learnt about going through difficult journeys is that God doesn’t want us to travel them alone. He actually wants us to take others on the journey, that they too may see the miracle.
Sometimes, God asks that we just wait a little longer for our miracle, for our answer, for our resolution. That we might share the journey with someone else. That someone else might see the miracle. That others would see his power working through you.
You can be assured that no matter the circumstance, God is always at work.
Now, go out there and live like you believe it!