But the closer it gets to Sunday, the more I realize that my expectations of the day may indeed fall quite short. In fact, I may feel no different from today. I may still feel cautious, hesitant, wary. I may still be afraid to hope for better things, unsure of what even to hope.
I was thinking about this yesterday in the car when a thought came to me. It has to do with the Easter story in Matthew 28, so I'm including it below.
"After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.”I've been hoping that this Sunday I break free of my grief, joyfully celebrating the risen Savior, reveling in the implications of his resurrection. I've been wanting to experience the glory of this day wholeheartedly. And yet I'm starting to realize that perhaps I can experience the wonders of the resurrection just as well in my current state of shock and sorrow.
In fact, celebrating Easter Sunday while filled with grief is rather fitting. After all, Mary Magdelene and her friends were themselves weighed down with grief that first Easter morning. They had put all their hope in Jesus being the Messiah. Although they had been so sure that he was the one sent from God to save them all, they had just seen him brutally beaten and publicly crucified. They had followed him for years, supporting him, watching him heal the sick, bring hope to the oppressed. And now he's been killed.
I can imagine their grief, their devastation at his death, their disappointment. I can see them walking to the tomb while carrying embalming ointments, readying themselves to see Jesus' body, riddled with wounds, one last time. And yet they went anyway to the place of their pain. They went to visit the place of their deepest disappointment, of their darkest tragedy.
Perhaps all I have to do this coming Sunday is simply to visit the place of my pain. The place inside where I feel abandoned, wronged, wounded. Because that's what the women did this first Easter morning.
Now going to the place of our pain isn't easy. Some of us haven't visited it in a long time. Some of us have rolled such large stones in front of it that it cannot be readily visited or easily experienced. Others of us have chosen to forget we have places of pain, or are guarding ourselves from uncovering our own wounds, from working through our past hurts. You will find the place of your pain where you are the most guarded, the most barricaded. It's a place of darkness, of decay. It's a place where you have a lot of defenses built up. And it, to varying degrees, is within each one of us.
But the story doesn't end there.
Because after the women went to the place of their pain, they found that the heavy tombstone had been rolled away, the guards disarmed by the presence of an angel. They found that the place of their pain had been made accessible to them.
So this Easter Sunday, choose to visit the place of your pain.
Go there yourself or take a friend with you, but choose to go to the place of your wounds, of your disappointment! Like the women on that first Resurrection morning, you may find that dark place opened for you, the large stone rolled away, the guards disarmed. Perhaps if you are able to visit the place of your pain you will find the power of it broken over you, even supernaturally.
In the midst of your fear and sorrow, least expecting it, you will find the Risen Savior. In the midst of your deepest disappointment and tragedy, you will find that you are not alone. And when we go to the place of our deepest pain, we may find instead the Risen Christ, generously greeting us.