ODJ: in the shadows

February 5, 2014 

READ: John 20:1-11  

Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in (v.11).

I know a couple who have just had their third miscarriage. In two of those painful losses they’ve held a perfectly formed, lifeless little body in their hands. While there’s much light in this world—beauty, goodness, joy—there are also the shadows of sadness, evil and suffering.

Sometimes we wonder where God is in the midst of our pain.

But look at the people to whom Jesus appeared after His resurrection. Mary Magdalene stood before a cold, empty tomb on Easter Sunday (John 20:11). She was weak with grief. The horror of witnessing the crucifixion of the innocent Man she loved was made worse by the apparent theft of His body from the grave (v.2).

Cleopas, walking along the Emmaus road with his friend, was disappointed and confused (Luke 24:13-32). The One he believed would liberate the Jews from their enemies had been crucified (v.21).

Peter, fishing with his friends, felt bewildered by all that had happened since Jesus’ crucifixion (John 21:1-3). He also felt ashamed. For he had declared that he would follow Jesus anywhere, but ended up denying his Lord three times (18:17,25-27).

Thomas, sitting with the disciples, was filled with doubt—wondering if it was really true that Jesus would live again (20:24-25).

Mary, Cleopas, Peter, Thomas—all of them in the shadows. And that’s where Jesus met them. Soon Mary and Cleopas saw Jesus with their own eyes and their grief and disappointment disappeared (Luke 24:30-32; John 20:12-16). Soon Peter saw Jesus and had his shame removed (21:7,15-19). Soon Thomas saw Jesus and had his doubts dispelled (20:26-28).

Life’s ‘shadow moments’ can cause us to doubt God’s goodness or even His existence. Instead, may they draw us closer to Him. —Sheridan Voysey

Read Job 42:5 and reflect on his words after he experienced God in his pain.  
How can pain help us to know God better? How have you seen God work through someone’s suffering?