What do you see when you picture Mary, the mother of Jesus, standing before him at his cross?
If you’re like me, the images that come to mind originated in a movie or maybe a religious painting. The fact is that Scripture doesn’t tell us what Mary said or how she acted as she watched her beloved Son die.
But the actions and reactions portrayed in films are easy to believe. I’m remembering a weeping woman, devastated by her Son’s suffering, defeated by the injustice of it all and helpless to do anything to change it.
If Mary wailed at his prolonged pain, if she wrung her hands and screamed “why” to God, we understand. For we have faced what isn’t fair. We have grieved at separation or death or disappointment. And out loud in a crowd, or alone in the shadows of the night, we have pleaded with God for an explanation.
I remember once when I had a physical symptom I couldn’t explain. I felt it and thought about it for several days after I made the doctor’s appointment before I could see him. I remember being at the mall or in a crowded elevator during those days, looking at the people around me, and thinking, These people aren’t sick. They’re not dying. Why is this happening to me? And why don’t any of them notice or care?
Not exactly rational, I know. But that little “crisis” (the doctor told me to take some aspirin and the pain would go away) gave me a shred of insight into the grief and confusion some others may face when life gives them a punch in the gut.
I was talking with a friend about her job. It had seemed like a dream opportunity, but now she was frustrated to tears because of her boss’s unreasonable demands and unpredictable demeanor. “Maybe you’ll be able to look back on this someday and see how the preparation you received for this position equipped you perfectly for what you’ll be doing then,” I said.
I know it doesn’t always work out that way. But when we’re in the middle of a mess, sometimes it helps to take a deep breath and admit that God may do something wonderful with it tomorrow or next year.
Mary could not fathom what was in store for her. She could not imagine that the anguish of Calvary would give way to the exuberance of the resurrection.
We cannot see how God will somehow allow our distress to turn to joy. But when we are overwhelmed by grief, he bids us quietly look to him and whisper the words, “I will trust you.”