Tara Beth Leach

Oh, how He loves us.

From Bitter Sorrow to Joyful Expectation

Posted on April 5, 2015 | 0 comments

Bitter sorrow. Hopelessness.

He was gone, nowhere to be found. As she sobbed, the tears rolled down her face.Mary Magdelene stooped down to peer into the tomb.

Waiting. Aching. Longing.  I sometimes wonder if she prayed, “Just one more glimpse, Lord; just to see you one more time! I will not leave this place without you!”

Days before, she stood at the foot of the cross as her Lord suffered. Keyed in on every movement, every word, every breath, every emotion, she watched. Tall above her, head down, he suffered – and she watched.
sorrow

Bitter sorrow. Hopelessness.

And as he was wrapped up and laid in the tomb, Mary watched. It was, after all, her Lord, her Savior, her teacher, her love. And now it was over. The bitter end had now come and gone.

Longing to capture a glimpse of her Lord, hoping that maybe his body wasn’t taken after all, she peered in. Imagine the utter shock she must have felt to see two angels sitting where Jesus had been lying.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her. (Jn. 20:13-18)

 

new morning

Joyful expectation. Hope.

******

Just last week I received an email that no one likes to receive. A young mom who had been attending our women’s bible study lost her fight with cancer. It doesn’t seem fair. She leaves behind 3 precious young boys and a husband at home. After I received the email, I walked into my 3 year old’s bedroom, crawled under the covers, pulled him into my arms, and held him as he slept. I wept.

Bitter sorrow. Hopelessness.

It’s not fair. Week after week, the women in her small group wept as Sue lay in her hospital bed. Praying for a miracle of some sort, the women had great difficulty understanding how and why this could happen. But it was happening. And it did happen.

Bitter sorrow. Hopelessness.

Today as I sit at my desk and I feel the heaviness of all of the women in our study, of Sue’s family, and sheer horror of cancer, I ache. But then I stoop down to peer in the tomb.

He’s not there.

He is risen.

Joyful expectation! Hope!

Sue’s story isn’t over; it is just the beginning. The Easter story reminds us that even in our bitter sorrow, we can have hope. We can have hope that these broken, tired, and aching bodies of ours will someday be made new. We can have hope that our decaying, disaster-stricken, war laden world will some day be a place where there will be no more tears, death, mourning, crying, or pain (Rev. 21:4).

No more cancer.

No more death.

No more discrimination.

Or war.

Or genocide.

No more.

It is as NT Wright writes, “The gospel of Jesus Christ announces that what God did for Jesus at Easter he will do not only for all those who are ‘in Christ’ but also for the entire cosmos. It will be an act of new creation, parallel to and derived from the act of new creation when God raised Jesus from the dead.”[1] Jesus was raised bodily from the dead; He did not enter in to a non-bodily existence. It is because of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead that death was defeated and will be defeated for all of humanity.

The sheer sorrow of Sue’s story is almost unbearable. But in our sorrow, we hope, we expect, we yearn, and we believe. We believe that what God did for Jesus on Easter, He will do for us who are in Christ. The story isn’t over, it’s just beginning.

Therefore, we don’t wait to begin this resurrection journey; rather, it begins now!  N.T. Wright again writes, “Easter is about new creation, a huge and stunning fresh gift of transforming grace, not about discovering that the old world has been misunderstood and needs simply to be allowed to be truly itself.”[2]

The resurrected life, which includes holiness, transformation, and renewal, begins today – in Christ and through the Spirit of the living God.

So, then, I ask: If we believe with hopeful, joyful expectation of a world of “no more’s”, then why wait? If the new heaven and new earth will be a place where love will prevail, then why wouldn’t we let love prevail here on earth? If it will be a place where there is no more pain, then why wouldn’t we avoid causing pain to the people around us? If it will be a place void of violence, then why wouldn’t we take a stand against violence all around us? If it will be a place where there is no more racism, division, discrimination, or divide, then why aren’t we breaking down barriers now?

Why wait?

The very Spirit of the living God that caused a great earth quake, shook the tomb, rolled the stone away, breathed life into Jesus’ lungs, and raised Jesus from the dead is in us. He’s in you; He’s in me.

Resurrection life, my friend, begins today.

light on the road

 

Watch this: “Forever” by Kari Jobe

[1] N.T. Wright, Surprised by: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: HarperOne, 2008), 99.

[2] Ibid, 294.

 

 

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