My cousin died last week. And a friend was deeply wounded by something a loved one said to her. And another friend continues to pray for healing from a painful illness. And another is deeply discouraged. I imagine each of you could add something to the list.
And last week, after Easter, I was reading in John 20 when Mary comes and finds the tomb empty. It was my “scheduled” devotional reading, and I’m a rule-follower, so I was obedient, and read it, but inside I was thinking…”Easter is OVER! Been there, celebrated that. Let’s move on.” (I’m not proud, just being honest).
I felt like those people who leave their Christmas wreath up til May. Easter didn’t feel relevant after Easter, which I know is soooo wrong, but like at the tomb, God was gracious and showed up
I was clonked on the head like one of the Three Stooges as I entered into this passage as Mary. Yes, Mary Magdalene, the one who Jesus miraculously cast all the demons out of, but at the same time, someone like all of us, any of us, who are ever in pain, lost, confused...
She’s so wrapped up in her own despair she doesn’t recognize Jesus. And He’s RIGHT THERE! With her. But at first her grief is larger than her God. It’s all she can see.
“I will never leave or forsake you.”
And Jesus asks her “Why are you crying?”
I imagine a gentle tone and understanding in His eyes. And I think, “What would Mary have answered?”
“I’m wrecked. I’m disillusioned. I’m lonely. I’m afraid. I don’t know what to do.”?
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”
And then Jesus says her name. “Mary.” And I imagine it like a parent would softly say the name of a distraught toddler as they tried to soothe away their tears.
In that one word it seems Jesus is telling Mary, and us, so many things.
I’m here. And it will be ok because I’m here. I see you. I understand your pain. I hurt with you. Just a few days ago I was the one saying “My God, why have you forsaken me?” So I get it. Really.
“Do not fear for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name. You are mine.”
So for Joyce and Katie and Sue and Nikki, and so many others I pray that you might sense Jesus turning to you and asking “Why are you crying?” That you might sense Him truly enter into your pain and gently say your name.
Sometimes I guess I just need to be reminded that Easter isn’t just about Easter. It’s about all those days after Easter when we cry or feel desperate or disappointed or alone and it seems like Jesus has left the building. But He hasn’t. So maybe I’ll leave the Easter decorations up another week.