It's Good Friday. I guess it's technically Saturday, but I haven't gone to bed yet, so I'm gonna count it. Right now our house is filled with the sound of snoring- Steve, Tate, and even our pug- Miss Maude. But a few hours ago it was anything but quiet around here. After a great dinner with family and a pit stop at Starbucks Steve and I came home with two tired kids- neither one was ready for bed. He took the baby and I wrestled Jane Gray. After a fight over pajamas and brushing teeth she settled into bed. I kissed her good night and started down the stairs. But halfway down I heard a tiny voice. "Mama, come back up here. I don't want to go to sleep." Typically this is a ploy for more play time, but tonight it seemed different- more sincere. Maybe I have leftover pregnancy hormones, but I caved. I agreed to lay down with my girl until she fell asleep. As I crawled up next to her she looked me in the eyes and repeated, "Mama, I don't want to go to sleep." I tried to tell Jane Gray about all of the fun plans we have for tomorrow- play time with cousins, church Easter egg hunt, lunch with Honey and Ya-Ya, etc. I said, "We have to go through the nighttime to get to the morning." She was satisfied enough with this answer and was out like a light. But I laid in that tiny twin bed thinking.
The night can be dark, lonely, and scary. We resist going to sleep. We fight it. It's not until sheer exhaustion takes over that we will finally submit to slumber. What is it that causes such fear? And the reality is that if we don't have it, we won't get to the morning.
I have several friends and acquaintances who are facing the night right now. I'm talking about honest-to-goodness; pitch-black darkness- loss of children, cancer, terminal illness- the stuff that grown-up nightmares are made of. For these friends, the night has nothing to do with a 24-hour cycle. (Oh! If it were that easy!) This is day-in and day-out trauma- the kind that leaves you permanently scarred. To be quite honest, all of them have more faith than I do. It's true. They are honest about their fear of the future, and they don't sugar-coat their grief. But in each individual instance they have used these events to highlight the redeeming love of Jesus. It's beautiful and tragic all at once. Not one of them (or any of us for that matter) could prevent the night from coming. It will fall upon every one of us. But they refuse to turn away from the only One who can bring the light.
As Easter approaches, I can't help but think about my friends and Jesus. The night has fallen, but they are not shaken. Afraid? Yes. Hurting? Yes. Praying to be spared? Yes. Willing to submit to the night in order to see the morning? Definitely. I actually heard one of these mother's pray, "Not my will, but yours be done, Lord." (Just to give you perspective, her infant daughter is dying of a terminal illness. It doesn't get darker than that.) Jane Gray isn't alone here is she? No one wants to go through the night. But are there any of us who are willing to miss the dawn?
There is no night that can prevent the dawn. There is no darkness that can stop the light. The tragedy of the crucifixion cannot overcome the power of the cross. Death has been defeated. The darkness may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
He has Risen! The morning is here!