I’ve been listening to Lamb of God: a sacred work for choir, orchestra and soloists pretty much nonstop the last couple of days. It’s appropriate because it’s almost Easter, and the work is about the last days of Christ’s life- so it’s been perfect for putting me in the right mindset for this coming Sunday. It’s also especially fitting for me because my uncle is dying, and will be leaving us in the next couple of days. So every time I hear, “Lord, if you had been here, our brother would not have died” it hits me a little harder.
That, of course, is followed fairly quickly by them seeing “the glory of God” and learning just that bit more that “I am the Resurrection and the Life” is a literal, rather than figurative statement. That reminder has been very comforting, and I wonder if, looking back with an eternal perspective, we will ultimately see that our losses were “quickly” returned to us, no matter how long it seems now.
I’ve also been thinking about Mary Magdalene and her approach to mourning and grief. She was the first to go to the tomb, she did not avoid the physical realities of death. When she discovered the tomb open and had brought the apostles, she was the one who stayed to mourn there while the others left. I think about how they must have felt- they must have been completely and utterly devastated. Not only had the man they considered their Savior been brutally killed, but now his body was missing, presumably taken by those who would do further evil. Their faith and their hope must have been so severely shaken. I assume the others went home to be alone in their grief, but Mary stayed. And because she was open and unashamed to grieve she found herself in the company of angels, and then the Lord Himself. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. The very situation that she must have seen as the ultimate trial was, only a few moments later, revealed as a miracle of immense import.
And that’s another thing- how many trials are only trials because we make them so? She suffered because His body was missing and she assumed that was a bad thing. But it never was a bad thing at all.
Along those same lines- there’s a song where Pilate refuses to condemn Christ to death stating with the scourging that “it is enough”. And Mary questions, “is this not enough? Show mercy on my son, has not the bitter cup been emptied?”. And I think, what would have happened if either of those statements/pleas had been honored? The full atonement would not have been realized, the full blessing not imparted. It is Christ, and Christ only, who states on the cross, “It is finished,” and chooses to die. I wonder how many trials we would declare enough prematurely, how many blessings we would inadvertently deny ourselves.
There are a bunch of other lessons I’ve been pondering this week, but they’re not really things I can put into words at this point. It’s been an interesting learning experience, and I’m grateful for it- for the music part at least. I could do without the death part, but as I keep being reminded, we came to this Earth to die – we weren’t meant to stay here forever. And I’m grateful that we can be in families and make a difference in others lives while we’re here. My uncle certainly has made a huge difference in mine, and it was purely and simply by loving me. Nothing big, nothing ostentatious, just unconditional, honest love. And that’s another lesson to learn, I suppose.