Today’s the day we call Holy Saturday-marking the time Jesus’s body was in the tomb. However for Jesus’s disciples, it was far from being a holy day. The day before, they’ve witnessed their beloved rabbi and friend, Jesus being betrayed, arrested, tortured, crucified, die, and buried.
Now their world was shattered. The one who said he’d be with them always, who would usher in the Kingdom of God, the one some thought would usher in a new “golden age” for Israel and overthrow Rome, was dead. Dead from the most humiliating and painful death anyone-especially a Jew-could die: crucifxion.
Those two little words were making a big impact on the disciples that day:
“Jesus is dead. Now what?”
“Are we next in line to be crucified? Now what?”
“Our future is questionable. Now what?”
“Judas betrayed him. Now what?”
“Peter denied him. Now what?”
“Mary lost her son, her help for old age. Now what?”
“Mary Magdalene lost her beloved. Now what?”
Peter asked, “Now what?” after denying Jesus and answered by going back to fishing. Judas asked, “Now what?” while regretting his betraying Jesus and answered that by committing suicide. The other disciples asked “Now what?” and answered by going into hiding.
“Now what” can be a painful question that’s asked at painful times:
Your tests came back positive. Now what?
The cancer you thought was completely removed returned and spread to other parts of your body. Now what?
The spouse you were married to for years, and hoped to grow old with suddenly leaves you-either by death or desertion. Now what?
Your hoped-for pregnancy ends in miscarriage, or worse, stillbirth. Now what?
Your only child dies a senseless death. Now what?
The only job you had since high school,where you worked your way up the ladder, and hoped to retire from was terminated through no fault of your own. Now with no other marketable skills, you face unemployment. Now what?
You lose your house to foreclosure. Now what?
You, or a loved one, get arrested for a crime you did (or did not) commit. Now what?
We all have had, have, and will have our “Now what?” times in life. Sometimes they seem to go on, one after the other, in painful succession. Like the disciples, we start to wonder about the future and how will we fare. As one who’s had a few “Now what” moments in succession in 2011, one of which coming into the present moment, I can’t give a nice and easy pat answer. We can be like Peter, and find something to escape to. Or sadly, we can be like Judas; not committing literal suicide, but killing our feelings by whatever means we have, or shutting down completely.
Or, we can face those “Now what?” moments with the dignity and grace God gives us each day, taking one moment at a time as we discover the answer. Take it from personal experience, all you can do is know that God’s presence is there as you begin to find the answer to your “Now what?” moment. It won’t be easy or quick, it could be an inexorable process that will push your spirit to its breaking point. But you’ll discover the God-given strength to make it through that moment.
To be continued…