Summary: In these days of uncertainty -- of war and violence -- we should look to the ladies outside the tomb for an example of what we can do.
Please e-mail me with any comments or if you use any part of this at your church at Mail4ChrisR@aol.com. I would love to hear about it. God Bless! - Chris
Today is a day of uncertainty. Our lives, whether consciously or unconsciously, are filled with anxiety about the future of our communities, our nation, and our world. We are concerned for our families and the families of those who serve. We pray for the men and women serving our nation. Also, as Jesus directs us, we pray for our declared enemies, for they too are someone’s sons and daughters. Most importantly we pray for peace. There is little more for us to do but to pray and wait.
These two actions are now part of our daily lives in regard to the war. These should become close friends. Neither should be seen as an adversary. Embracing the acts of praying and waiting can enable us to overcome our anxiety.
As we pray we recognize the power of the Lord of all the earth. Acknowledging God’s presence can bring us peace of mind. By taking our concerns to God we guard our hearts against the ambiguity of uncertainty. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When you turn over your daily worries to God trust that God is in control and will work out all things to His good and divine plan.
Waiting is our other friend. Often, waiting seems an enemy. In our fast paced world, waiting makes us uncomfortably irritable. Yet, God tells us that patience is a virtue and that waiting brings about growth. If we have truly given our cares to God and we truly trust God knows best, then waiting should be a glorious time of rejoicing. Psalm 37 reminds us that, “He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.”
As we approach the victorious day of Easter may we recall the picture of patience before the tomb. It is Holy Saturday and Jesus’ closest friends grieve the loss of their loved one. They gather and pray and wait. What they have witnessed in the past week has been a horrible act of injustice. Furthermore, they are ashamed of themselves for turning their backs. They repent and seek forgiveness from God and from each other.
Two of Jesus friends depart from the group and wait near the tomb. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. For these women this day of waiting is quiet. It is the Sabbath, a day of rest. Nothing is supposed to happen on the day of the Sabbath. This is the picture of two women waiting and watching. Holy Saturday is a day of quiet waiting. The story is on hold. Many, surely, wonder if it is finished. Jesus’ presence is absent. Yet, we learn in this absence about waiting.
We know that only after the sun has set and the day has passed may the story continue: “Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb….” What the Marys discovered was an empty tomb. Later, Jesus appears to Mary and then to the other awaiting disciples. The story continues.
In their waiting the Marys and the other disciples found peace and eventually they realized the unforeseen victory of Jesus. While they were waiting and praying God was at work. While the Roman soldier stood guard on the outside of the tomb, God was at work. While the angels in heaven rejoiced about a victory the disciples could not see, God was at work. As the Marys sat on the outside of the tomb, God was at work.
The same is true for us today. While planes drop bombs and soldiers confront the declared enemy, God is at work. While the Presidents of our nation, the nation of Iraq, and all the nations of the world continue to govern, God is at work. While the news anchors report on the attack and analysts scrutinize each and every move, God is at work.
While we pray and wait and wait and pray, God is at work.