November 28, 2013

Stuck in Grief, Pulled Into Joy

John 20:11-18

“Woman, why are you crying?”
—John 20:13


Mary stood outside Jesus’ tomb, crying. Her Lord and friend had died, and a real and legitimate grief had come over her.

But Mary’s grief entombed her. It blurred her vision so that when she saw the stone rolled away from Jesus’ tomb, she assumed that someone had stolen his body. And when she saw Jesus standing in front of her, she thought he was a gardener.

Jesus, fully alive, faced a friend who was blinded by so much grief that she couldn’t see him.

Perhaps Jesus spoke Mary’s name softly, gently. But he might well have said it forcefully to shake her out of her grief: “Mary!”—as if to say, “Get a grip on yourself! I’m alive! I’ve conquered death. I’ve broken its grip. Mary! Leave the tomb behind and come into the joy of new life!”

Sometimes grief or other harsh realities can overwhelm us so much that we forget Jesus is alive. But he has conquered death—our death, our loved ones’ deaths—and our future is safe in his hands.

We legitimately grieve the deaths of people we love, and we struggle with the cruelties of injustice and corruption in this world, but we do so knowing that our grief will one day turn to joy. What a call to thankful living!

Christ has risen, and one day he will return again!

Jesus, may the truth of your resurrection calm our spirits. May your victory fill us all with gratitude, courage, and hope. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Harvey Stob

Rev. Harvey Stob and his wife, Audrey, served as missionaries in Argentina for eleven years. They then served churches in Cincinnati, Ohio; Ridgewood, New Jersey; and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Harvey retired from full-time pastoral work in 2009. He and Audrey have three children and seven grandchildren.

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