Holy Saturday - March 30
Today, there is no Bible reading. Today, we acknowledge that, on that very first Holy Saturday, God seemed silent.
There have, of course, been many times in the Bible where God appeared to be silent – in the face of injustice, exile, defeat at the hands of enemies. And Scripture gives us many words to use as we cry out to God in all of these situations. But today, on Holy Saturday, we remember the moments of cosmic silence and we sit patiently with them.
It can be so easy to rush from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. To speak of Jesus’ death and immediately follow it with ‘and his resurrection.’ And most of the time that is because it’s the reality of God’s rule and reign. But today – today we choose to sit in silence. The cross is empty and the grave is full.
Holy Saturday is a day to sit with the brokenness of the world and to understand that we live between times – in the now and the not yet, where sometimes it feels as if evil has won and darkness has triumphed. To admit the reality of life’s circumstances can cause us to wrestle and even doubt. Silence can feel cruel. We live in a world full of Holy Saturday moments: brokenness, pain, trauma, war, slavery, violence.
Sometimes, we don’t get the results we want this side of eternity. Sometimes, we’re forced to live with the reality of the brokenness of the world. Sometimes, every day feels like Holy Saturday.
What Holy Saturday realities are you sitting in today?
What global situations make you feel like evil has won? Abha* (story below) hasn’t seen the people who sexually exploited her held to account. She’s living with the pain of not knowing whether she will ever see earthly justice.
Take some time to write a prayer or psalm about these moments.
Today, let us sit in this Holy Saturday – these quiet, dark, broken, painful 24 hours of fierce wrestling and unanswered questions. Let us acknowledge today of all days that the brokenness of the world hurts us and those we love, and the evil sometimes feels overwhelming. Let us name those moments, lament those situations. Let us bring them to the foot of the empty cross, let us lay them outside the tomb of our Saviour.
And let us pick up our feeble, final bit of trust that God has not forgotten us and stake our life on it.
For the cross is empty, and soon the grave will be too.
Light a candle and read Psalm 88.
Bring before God those you know – personally or whose stories you have read – who are living in ‘Holy Saturday moments.’ Ask for God’s comfort and his presence with them, even in the midst of deep darkness.
No earthly justice - Abha's story
*Please note that this story contains descriptions of sexual violence.
Sometimes, this broken world doesn’t deliver the justice we deserve – no matter how hard we fight for it. This is Abha’s experience.
As a young teen, Abha* was sexually exploited for two years by a trafficking ring in South Asia. In March 2015, police brought her to safety and IJM began supporting her recovery and pursuit of justice.
Abha faced a lengthy and painful legal trial against 11 accused traffickers. She was subjected to harsh and traumatic cross-examinations in court. Through it all, Abha did her best to remain calm and explain the truth to help protect other girls.
Finally, when courts reopened after the worst of the pandemic in 2021, the judge claimed the exploitation had not been proven “beyond a reasonable doubt” and acquitted all 11 suspected perpetrators.
The news was devastating to IJM, but most especially to Abha, who cried in disappointment that the judge did not believe her.
One member of the legal team shared, “The judge chose to listen to the lawyers of the accused over a girl who was victimised, abused and traumatised for years. We were extremely disappointed by the judge’s lack of sensitivity.”
Understandably, Abha decided she didn’t want to take on another emotional ordeal by appealing the acquittals. Even as she grieves this legal decision, Abha continues to press forward in her healing and her dreams for the future.
Abha was offered a job supporting survivors of trafficking in a shelter home, and now hopes to become a social worker, using her experiences to help other girls like herself.
“The past is pain that I have gone through, and now there is only joy going forward,” Abha says.
Abha’s resilience continues to inspire IJM staff, who are using the lessons from her case to train other justice system officials and lead the way for a more victim-sensitive environment for survivors.