I have noticed that the older I get, the easier it is for me to weep. While I could blame it on hormone changes/imbalances, the simple reality is that the more that I see of this life, the more reason there is to weep.
It is not that I have a bad life. On the contrary I feel very blessed and have every reason to be happy and at peace. For the most part that is true, but the enemy of our souls knows what buttons to push to turn our days from lightness to heaviness. He delights to make the child of God miserable with fear, doubt and worry just because he hates God and all that is associated with God.
This life is always tainted by sin and the specter of loss with its attendant grief. Every hope that we have in this life must eventually vaporize into an ethereal mist as our loved ones perish and our own bodies and minds seem to dissolve into unstable jello-like amorphous blobs. (Perhaps the term ‘dust’ is more concise and not as unflattering a description?)
In the midst of this unpleasant reality, we search for hope that is larger than life – Hope that is transcendent to this physical world with all of its discordant patterns of entropy and evil influence. When we find the transcendent truth that God reveals, we want to try and make that truth fit into our present paradigm.
For instance, when confronted with sickness or a terminal diagnosis, we call upon God, knowing that He is able to deliver us from it. We know that God is always good so we assume that His goodness must apply to our present condition. We often forget that God’s goodness transcends our present circumstances. He may choose to heal us or He may have a higher purpose in our trial. (James 1:3,4)
We considered in the last post how God is in the habit of challenging the paradigm of our thinking. He is sovereign to work all things together for good even though our present circumstances may not seem to be so good. However, it is our tendency that when His will upsets our self focused paradigm, we forget who God is and focus on how He has seemingly failed us.
If You Can’t Manipulate ’em, Reject ’em
Perhaps it has been your experience that God appears to have let you down and you have tried to put the thought of God out of your mind. I doubt that any of us enjoy being used by other people. It is so maddening to be taken advantage of and have people befriend you only because of what they can get out of you rather than for you are.
It often happens that we treat God the same way. We pretend to love Him because He might do something for us or we are afraid of what He might do to us. We aren’t really interested in getting to know Him and love Him for who He is. When we can’t manipulate Him, we reject Him.
The wonder of Christ on the cross, among other things, proves that He is good. Beyond that, it shows us that He has not called us to suffer what He Himself is not willing to suffer. Mary Magdalene was no stranger to this world’s evil and the depths of satan. (Luke 8:2)
As she approached the tomb of Jesus, she must have been trying to make sense of the death of Jesus on the cross. How hard it was for her to reconcile His horrible execution with how she had seen Jesus repeatedly exercise authority over the evil one and even death itself. (John 11:43)
We considered last time how that she had a reason to wonder at what she found when she reached the tomb. Now we find that she was filled with sorrow that the body of her Lord Jesus, the object of her worship, was gone. We find her standing outside of the empty tomb weeping. (John 20:11)
A Reason to Weep:
Many of us have had the powerful experience of standing beside a casket containing the body of a loved one. There is usually a time before the casket is closed that the family is gathered to witness the the lid of the casket secured in place. The clicking of the latches or the nails driven in on that casket reverberate with an air of finality. The fullness of the loss grips our soul in sorrow and intensifies with that sense of closure.
The death of a loved one is always accompanied by some sense of guilt. Our mind torments us over something more that could have been done or said…some opportunity lost for an act or a word of kindness. Perhaps there is some regret for things said in anger or haste and left unconfessed.
Mary Magdalene not only wondered why all of the events of the her Lord’s death happened this way but now it appears as she looked into an empty tomb that someone has robbed her of her opportunity for closure and one last act of devotion to her Lord.
Mary looked up from her weeping to see a figure of a man that she assumed was the gardener. (John 20:14,15) Perhaps she thought him to be a conspirator in the removal of the body of her Lord. She was desperate to know and wept even more with the frustration of not knowing.
Sometimes we feel as if the sorrows will never end. Often they seem to multiply as a result of one unguided decision after another. Perhaps, less frequently troubles come without assistance from ourselves. The loss of control over our circumstances knock us lower and lower until all hope seems to be lost.
One of the best pieces of spiritual counsel given to me for any of us to lay hold of is this simple truth:
“The Spirit of God will knock us down so that all we can do is look up.“
After my last drunk and its accompanying hangover, I felt as if I had lost control of my life’s direction. Without help from God, I was sure that I would die without knowing where I would be for eternity. It caused me to fall down on my knees and ask the Lord what I should do and where I should go….
God loves to draw near to a broken spirit and a contrite heart. (Psalm 34:18) It is the goodness of God to let the consequences of our choices break us in order that we may be led to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
Mary was called by name…
Awaiting a response from the gardener, Mary was so blinded by her grief she did not know who was right there beside her. She was so consumed to find her way the Lord’s body, she could not see that the figure of the risen Lord waiting to be recognized by His grieving saint.
How often the Lord’s presence is missed by His saints because we are so consumed by the frustrations and darkness of our world that we simply cannot enjoy what His Word has promised for us.
Midst the darkness, toil and sorrow,
One bright gleam I see,
Well I know the blessed morrow
Christ will come for me…
We so identify with the man of sorrows that even the promise of His return as King provides little solace to us. What we fail to see is that our Great High Priest is with us presently. (Romans 10:6-8)
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all [points] tempted as [we are, yet] without sin.”
Hebrews 4:15 [NKJV]
What is the one thing that changes everything for us…just as it did for poor Mary?
“Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).”
John 20:16 NKJV
Something that I find interesting here is that it says twice that Mary turned her self around. It says in verse 14 that she turned to speak to Jesus whom she did not recognize. Then in verse 16, we see that she turned again. Now unless we can envision Mary spinning like a top in front of Jesus, it would seem the second turning is more of a turn of mind or a turn of emotion.
In other words, she was going down the path of despair and in a moment her heart was turned around to revive the eternal hope that she first embraced the day that she was delivered from demons by her Lord Jesus.
Although we do not read here of her weeping, I expect that the flood of emotion gave her another reason to weep. Only now it was not due to ignorance and frustration, it was not for the loss of her loved one, it was not for the loss of closure…it was for the joy of seeing her Risen Lord!
Take Your Turn:
It is not an uncommon thing for people to know the Christian message that Jesus was crucified for the sin of the world and raised again the third day. So, as long as we relegate the story of Christ to that of a creed or dogma, it remains safely tucked away in the recesses of our mind reserved for fairy tales, bed time stories and myths.
Yet, it is a whole different matter when the Word of God is applied to us personally. That requires us to change the way that we think about the Bible. The shift in our thinking begins with the understanding that it is not the commands and traditions of men that lay claim to us, but it is the Word of God that lays claim to us.
This claim is verified by the reality of Christ’s death burial and resurrection according to the scriptures. No less than 33 distinct prophecies concerning Christ that were given over thousands of years were all fulfilled on the day of His death. So, we know that we can trust God’s Word.
When we hear the word repentance, we are usually drawn to think of a haranguing voice nagging us to change our ways. The word repentance means simply to turn. In particular we are called to redirect our thoughts and change our mind about something.
The reality is that there is only one sin that we must repent from if we are to be saved from an eternal hell. That repentance happens the moment we turn from our unbelief and we believe that Jesus Christ is God. Every other sin comes from failing to believe this. Every other sin is forgiven when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ whose death, burial and resurrection satisfied the debt of your sins and mine:
“… Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”
Acts 16:31 KJV
The night the Lord saved me, it was so clear that God was using His Word to speak to me, that it was as if God was calling my name and saying to me, yes it was for the sin of the world, but “Look up Child, I DID IT FOR YOU!!“
Is that not a reason to weep?
If this post was helpful to you, I would appreciate it if you could take the time to post a short comment below. This is very helpful toward getting this blog seen by more people. Likewise, if you believe that this blog post would be helpful to someone you know, please copy and share the url link with them…Thank you and may the Lord richly bless you today.