Presence in Grief

Read: John 20:11-18; 1 Thessalonians 4:13

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb. (John 20:11 NRSV)

Even though we believe in the resurrection, there is a place for grief in the Christian faith. Mary was the first to reach Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning. She went there to grieve for her friend and complete his burial rites. Her grief was multiplied by the discovery that the tomb was empty, because she supposed someone had stolen Jesus’ body. After a brief conversation with two angels, she interacts with one whom she takes to be the gardener. It is not the gardener. It is Jesus, alive and well.

It strikes me as important that Jesus first meets Mary as she is crying. He does not wait until the tears have subsided. It also strikes me as important that he does not jump to quickly stop her tears. He does not grab her by the shoulders and say, “Mary, Mary, it’s me.” Rather, he asks her to share her pain. He asks, “Why are you weeping?” (John 20:15 NRSV).

There is a place for pain in the Christian life, but Jesus asks us to face our pain in light of the resurrection. He is alive and well and he meets us in our grief. In the midst of our pain, he speaks our name. He comes to us when we hurt and lovingly says, “Mary,” “Jon,” “Sally,” “Tony.” Our pain and grief are real. So is Christ’s presence. —Jon Brown

As you pray, ask God to meet you in your grief. Share your pain with Jesus.

About the Author

Jon Brown is the lead pastor of Pillar Church in Holland, MI. With his beloved wife, Kristyn, Jon is the proud father of 4 daughters: Lydia, Tabitha, Miriah, and Ava. He has been the keynote speaker at a number of events including, The Nicaraguan Pastors Conference of the Moravian Church, The Cascades Family Bible Camp, and many events at Hope College. He is a regular writer for the Words of Hope devotionals as well. Urging the church forward to participate in the mission of Christ in the world is where Jon finds the deepest joy and greatest sense of purpose.

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