I've waited for a lot of things in my life. My iced caramel macchiato at Starbucks. In line for the women's restroom at a Justin Timberlake concert. Test results from the doctor. Test results from a family member or friend's doctor. For trips to the beach. In the airport security line for trips to the beach. And I'm still waiting for a husband.
But I cannot fathom the waiting that the disciples endured from Jesus' death on the cross to the moment he walked among them again.
3 days. Waiting. Wondering. Questioning. Doubting.
Was it really all true? Was he really going to come back like he said he would? What was life going to look like after this?
We all ask questions in the waiting. Like an ellipsis leaves us waiting for what's next, Jesus dying left so many, in addition to the disciples, waiting to find out what was going to happen next. In some ways I can relate with the waiting concept, but it's hard to grasp what must have gone through their minds that weekend.
The disciples had spent so much time with Jesus. They basically gave every day to follow him around, learn his teachings, learn the way he did life, and then they watched him die. He had given them clues. He told them it was coming. But just as they fought over who would sit closest to Jesus at the dinner table, their minds were not always mature enough to understand the weight of his words.
Maybe then, sitting at the Last Supper, they believed him. But if I were in their shoes watching him be handed over to the soldiers who would torture him and nail him to the cross, I'd be questioning things. And when he breathed his last, I'd surely wonder to myself "Why didn't he stop this?"
The 3 days after that had to be awful. Filled with the darkness of depression, covered with a cloud of doubt, heavy with the weight of grief. I also imagine that they replayed every miracle, every conversation over and over in their minds...trying to remember what Jesus had said, wishing they'd paid more attention along the way. If I were one of the disciples, I'd be wavering between depression and curiosity.
He promised them he was coming back. But we know in human terms, promises don't always carry a lot of weight. Sometimes they're thrown around with little meaning, so did they really truly believe the promises Jesus made? I'd like to think so, but they had to have their moments of doubt.
I know this: in those 3 days those disciples probably dealt with their grief in very different ways, just as we all grieve in very different ways. Some with anger, some trying to repress it and pretend everything is ok, some still hopeful for some kind of turnaround, some in disbelief, some just wanting to be alone, and some just wanting to be in community with each other. After all, they were used to being together, but did Jesus' physical absence mean their so-called "group" was breaking up? What did all of this mean?
Did the disciples just sit in the upper room and pray together as they waited? Did they sit there and talk about their sadness? Did they cry together? Were they fearful?
While those 3 days are yet a mystery to us, we know how the story turned out. The disciples may or may not have even realized at the time what they were waiting for, that it was going to change the world. That it was going to change their eternity. I don't know what they thought, realistically, in the 3 days of waiting. Maybe they didn't even know they were waiting. They may have thought, "this is the end."
I pray that in our waiting, no matter how long or how hard it may seem, we recognize that this certainly is not the end. Whether it's 3 days or 3 years or 3 decades, the story ends in victory, because we know our Savior came back once. And while we wait for him to come again once more, we wait with eager expectation.