Holy Saturday, Grief and Disappointment

Dr. Elizabeth Ríos
4 min readApr 8, 2023

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As I write this I am sitting in the lobby of my hotel on a super rainy Caribbean Saturday disappointed that the plans we had for today were essentially canceled because of two things: the rain and surprise life hits to friends who were going to show us the west side of the island.

We rented a car yesterday and this morning we got up early and were ready to head to Rincón but it was pouring and we decided to wait another hour because we hoped by then the rain would have stopped. We texted our friends who told us not only was it raining on their side of the island as well but they were heading to the hospital to deal with some severe pain my friend was feeling. Soon after that text, we also heard that his mother had passed in Honduras.

I couldn’t help but feel for my friends. Just yesterday, Friday, we were excited to meet up but then came Saturday. It got me thinking so much about this particular Holy Week and today, Holy Saturday.

Isn’t it just like life to be excited and looking forward to something when out of nowhere something punches you in the stomach in such a gut-wrenching way that you are not sure you could ever be hopeful again. This Holy Week was also my birthday week and I was already somewhat sad since it is the first year I don’t have my youngest son around as he passed seven months ago. But to hear of what my friends just entered into made me relive my own ‘point of impact’ story. The day my son died and all the things that preceded his death. With the non-stop rain falling here in my beautiful isla de Puerto Rico, I just thought it was a perfect illustration of what today means on the liturgical calendar. That space in-between death and life. Disappointment and hope. Shattered dreams and dreams renewed.

These kinds of Saturdays, which are dreary, silent, empty, are no fun on vacations and they certainly aren’t in life. But they happen so often. They usually come when you were expecting something else. Jesus’ disciples weren’t expecting their leader to die such a humiliating death and when he did they were dumbfounded, perplexed, how could that happen to the son of God? Isn’t that what we think when the unthinkable happens to us? How could God allow this to his son or daughter? We like them are left utterly confused and in fear, grief and anxiety about tomorrow.

But I think we should linger a little bit longer on Saturday before we do what is often done and rush over to Resurrection Sunday. Saturday isn’t prep for the party. Saturday is a pause from the certainty that is often found in religious circles. We want to always be sure and always be in victory because after all, to many that IS the reason for the party.

I think the feeling we get from those random gut punches of profound loss, of grief, of purposelessness, of lostness, teach us something that resurrection Sunday never can. You see we live more in the Black Saturdays (what Holy Saturday is also known as) than the resurrection Sundays. We need to learn how to live with disappointment and grief. We need to learn that some things in our life do go to the tomb. We have to learn that this life is not all what the prosperity gospel promises. This one and only life we have on this side of heaven is both darkness and light; sadness and joy; death and resurrection. We can’t possibly know gratefulness if we never experienced things that gave us something to be grateful for.

Maybe you are not ready to move forward after experiencing your own loss, grief or disappointment. That’s ok. God can meet us in our loss, our grief, our disappointment just as much as he meets us in the victory of Resurrection Sunday.

So on this Black Saturday, which didn’t turn out for me at all like I hoped or for my friends, or maybe for you…I ask you to ponder on the fact that these kinds of Saturdays may bring the feelings we in society like to run from but they are also the emotions we learn from; which make the party on Sunday so much more significant.

Sending you love and light as you sit with Saturday.

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Dr. Elizabeth Ríos

NY Diasporican thinker/writer, former pastor, church planter educator and Jesus & justice advocate. Wife and Mom to two boys (one in heaven).