It’s been said that it’s always the darkest before dawn. While I’m not sure about this (I’ve never watched for that moment right before dawn and certainly never measured light levels), it is true that some of the darkest moments of our lives precede some of the lightest.
Saturday—all those years ago—was the Jewish Sabbath and the day between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Can you imagine the darkness of this time? Let me paint you a picture:
You’ve given your heart and soul to the Savior’s message of love. You just know that He’s the promised Messiah. He even rode through the streets of Jerusalem as a king! Then, within the space of a few hours, He was arrested on trumped-up charges, beaten and tortured by both the Chief Priests and the Romans, and then nailed to a cross. You know that He has the power to save Himself, but he doesn’t. You don’t know why. Then He’s dead, the great Savior of all mankind, and your purpose is gone. You and the other believers don’t know where to go or what to do. Both the Jews and the Romans are set against you. Even if you’re not ostracized by the other Jews outright, you’re certain to be punished by the Jewish leaders.
I’m sure this and much more were going through the heads of Jesus’ followers on that Saturday. Sure, Jesus mentioned His death and resurrection, but His disciples didn’t really understand. Can you imagine the darkness, the hopelessness? I’d like to think some of them held on to faith and hope, but I’m not judging those who didn’t.
How much is this like our lives? One moment everything is okay (or awesome or not awesome but at least not awful) and then you hit the bottom. Maybe it’s gradual, maybe it’s sudden, but regardless you find yourself at the bottom of a pit unable to see your way out. All is darkness.
That moment before dawn is called the fourth watch in olden times or the eleventh hour symbolically. It’s the time right before the dawn when we’re vulnerable and tired. It’s a great time for the adversary to strike. It’s also the time when we need to rely on the Lord the most:
“And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.”Matthew 14:25
However, it’s during the darkness before dawn, during the vulnerability of the fourth watch, during the eleventh hour, that Jesus Christ comes to us if only we are watching.