Summary: Jesus had promised that He would overcome the grave, but those who loved Him so could not understand how pain and sorrow could ever translate into joy and salvation.
Devastation To Resurrection
It had been a week of emotion. There was the fever pitched frenzy of adoring crowds lining the streets, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” as they welcomed Jesus on Palm Sunday. While the excitement lingered, the crowd gathered with clenched fists shouting, “Crucify Him!” Before they knew it the sounds of cheers had been replaced with the sounds of flesh being torn and the sound of steel against steel as nails were being driven into Jesus’ hands and feet. With every blow of the hammer, devastation pounded the hearts of those who watched their Lord die in agony. Who would have ever thought that one could experience such heights and depths all in a week’s time?
Life can be like that you know? One day you are riding the waves of satisfaction when suddenly the waves begin to beat so fiercely upon the hull of your heart that it breaks into shreds. One day you are enjoying life to its full and the next day finds you looking into a mirror and seeing nothing but emptiness and sorrow. Have you ever ridden that roller coaster of emotion that I am speaking of this morning? I have a few friends who have taken the ride.
Just this past week Bobby Ross from the Daily Oklahoman sat in my office. He was writing a story about Jason and Jill Mirikitani and wanted to ask me some questions. As we talked I focused on January 13th and January 15th. January 13th was a “Kodak Moment” for Jason and Jill and all of our church. I was away that morning, preaching at Village Christian Church as they had lost their pastor and we were helping them with their loss.
Jill sang the most beautiful song before Jason ever stood to preach. She sang the Easter story of the two followers of Jesus who were walking away from Jerusalem with their heads down, dejected, and feeling all alone after Jesus’ death. Before the end of Jill’s song Jesus joined the two men. As he took the bread their eyes were opened and their sorrow turned to exuberant joy…Jesus opened their eyes and they could see. Jill’s countenance changed as she began to sing the chorus,
Yes, I can see who walks with me
I can see who speaks my name
And I can feel something stirring in my heart
How His words ring strong and true
Like a once familiar strain
And I know that I’ll never be the same
I can see
I can see
I can see!
Following Jill’s song, Jason preached for the very first time at our church and it was a sermon that struck a chord in so many hearts. God used Jason to drive home one of the most important biblical truths that you and I can cling to in life – When you can’t see God’s hand you can trust His heart. He repeated that phrase over and over again. He told stories from his own life to illustrate his sermon, as well as stories from the lives of men and women who are written about in God’s Word. By the end of the sermon there was not a soul present who walked away wondering what God was trying to teach us.
I talked to Jason after he preached that day and he was so honored to have the opportunity to teach God’s Word. Sunday, January 13th was a glorious moment for Jason and Jill. Just two days later their joy, and ours, turned to sorrow. Deep, agonizing sorrow, that is still with us today. We learned on January 15th that Jason and Jill had been in a car wreck, Jill had died, and Jason was not expected to live through the night. Oh, there were so many plans, such a promising future, the sky was the limit for the ministry that God had given to these two, young, talented friends of ours.
How can you experience such different emotions in the span of three days? How can you go from the thrill of joyous celebration to the depths of devastation in less than a week? We all asked the question.
When I was in Plano, Texas I had a friend who was a sweet mother and a devoted wife. Dee loved her husband, Roderick, but he had a lot of problems. Problems that affected the whole family. Dee stuck by her husband even though her hope of enjoying a long marriage was fading. While Dee and Roderick were dealing with his problems Dee found out she was going to have a baby. When the little boy was born Dee was so excited and she poured her love and life into that little boy. It wasn’t too long until Dee noticed that something wasn’t right with the baby. She took him to see the doctor, but the doctor couldn’t figure out what was wrong so he sent her to a specialist. Dee was scared, but she couldn’t turn to her husband since he was sitting in a jail cell in McKinney, Texas. Dee asked me if I would go to Baylor Hospital with her while they did some tests on little Roderick. We went to Baylor, the doctors took blood, and did their tests. As scared as Dee was for her little boy, she glowed every moment she was around him. His precious little smile lit her face like lights on a Christmas tree. Little Roderick was God’s gift to Dee and she was more than grateful. The day came when Dee called me -- Broken, sobbing, and barely able to talk – she told me that the tests had come back on little Roderick and they showed that he had AIDS. The news sucked Dee down into the depths of devastation.