How are you holding up in this tough time? It is hard to wait, isn’t it? Be encouraged though, for The Lord is near. He stands with us always, no matter what trials we face.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
John 20:19-20 – NIV
Missing things. That’s how it all started. At age 33, I was failing to notice objects in my path, struggling to perform routine tasks. It didn’t make sense. Something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t figure it out.
When the doctor confirmed that I had lost significant portions of my visual field to a retinal disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa, I responded with both alarm and confusion. “What? How can that be?”
Missing things. That was true for the disciples on that first Easter Sunday (John 20:1-9). The women had returned reporting the empty tomb. Peter and John had ran for the tomb finding only empty grave cloths instead of the body of their beloved Jesus. Can’t you imagine Peter and John standing there at the tomb, looking at one another in bewilderment, “What? How can this be?”
The text says that John saw and believed (John 20:8), but I find it curious that the very next verse, John 20:9, states, “(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)” That verse makes me wonder. What did John believe? What thoughts were swirling through Peter’s mind?
What about the other disciples? How did they receive the news? Their reactions are unknown, but we do know that the two followers on the road to Emmaus were struggling with the events of the day when Jesus joined them on the road. They were in the presence of the Lord, but they did not recognize him until much later (Luke 24:13-34).
Jesus had forecasted his death and resurrection. He had told his closest friends what would happen to him, and yet, when it did, they were confused and perplexed, even frightened. Did Jesus’ teaching about rising on the third day ever enter their minds that afternoon? Did they remember Lazarus rising from the dead? Did they notice how the puzzle pieces were fitting together, or was it just too hard to imagine? Was it all just too much to take in?
Missing things. The disciples were missing the clues. They failed to notice the signs. As with me and my diagnosis, it took awhile for the disciples to come to grips with the situation.
Still, there is another slant on the story that interests me. Why did Jesus wait all day before appearing to his disciples in that locked room? He appeared to Mary in the morning (John 20:11-18). Why not appear to Peter and John or to the other disciples immediately? Jesus waited. He sent them the news (John 20:18), but then he waited before making another appearance.
Jesus had told Mary that he must ascend to his Father, that she must not hold onto him, but should go and tell the others (John 20:17). We don’t know what that afternoon time period looked like for Jesus, but I wonder if there is a message in that waiting period. Did Jesus know that his friends would need time to assimilate the information? Did the waiting allow time for them to remember his prophecy? Did the waiting solidify their belief? When Jesus appeared before them, did the hours of contemplation cement the reality of the resurrection in their minds? We don’t know the train of their thought processes, but we know the outcome. They believed.
Like the disciples, we are prone to miss things. The lesson might be right in front of us, but we are blind to its import. The Holy Spirit still speaks to us, and we sometimes fail to notice as we allow the noise of this life to drown out the message.
We lift up prayers of petition, and wonder why we don’t get an immediate answer. We think our prayer went unheard, when maybe the waiting was part of the answer. Perhaps there is a lesson in the waiting that we need to learn.
Like the disciples, it took awhile for me to process the reality of my eye disease. I struggled to assimilate the information. Acceptance took a long time, but I learned many lessons in that waiting period. The waiting changed my perspective. It made me see life differently, highlighting a myriad of blessings that would have been so easy to miss.
Friends, we find ourselves in a strange waiting period. We are confused and perplexed, faced with daily dilemmas, frightened by the uncertainty. Still, The Lord is near. He is with us, and perhaps, He wants us to use this waiting period to gain some new perspective.
So maybe it’s a good time to ask ourselves a few pointed questions. What am I missing? Is there something I am failing to notice? Is there a lesson to be learned from this waiting period?
…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20b – NIV
O Lord Jesus, remain with us while we wait. Comfort us and keep us. Guide us and direct us. Help us see what You are revealing to us in this waiting period. Strengthen us to grow in our walk with You.