Waiting is hard. Especially when you feel helpless in the face of a painful situation that you desperately wish were different. But for whatever reason, you are powerless to change it. You believe in time, things will be different, even better, but for the moment, you are stuck in an emotional waiting room. And perhaps, hopelessness is even sitting beside you. You don’t see a way out, through or around. You can only see darkness. When I think of how Mary must have felt on that dark, fateful afternoon, I can’t even begin to imagine her pain. How did she do it? How did she tolerate the fear, the anguish, the rage, that surely must have been coursing through her veins as she watched them beat and torture him? When he was a little boy, she was able to kiss away his tears over a skinned knee, and protect him from the bullies. But now he was a grown man and she no longer had the power to protect him from anything. Even this atrocity. It wasn’t part of the plan.
It must have been its own kind of torture for her. To watch her son, the gentle soul with the kind eyes and the healing touch, this man, who had never harmed anyone in his short life, now being whipped nearly to death. And if that wasn’t enough, they jammed a crown of thorns deep into his forehead, mocked him, spit on him, and threw dice for his clothes. Pain. Humiliation. Suffering. She must have had to fight every impulse flexing in her muscles to run into the crowd of soldiers, push them off of him, scream at them to leave her son alone. But she didn’t. She couldn’t. It wasn’t part of the plan.
She stood in the crowd watching helplessly, as they forced him to carry his own cross up the cobblestone streets, barely able to walk, pushing him along with their spears; what must she have been thinking? What had he done to deserve this? She knew. Absolutely nothing. It must have been excruciating to watch him stumble along, gasping for breath, knowing she was unable to help her son. Was her mind racing with how to save him from this madness? I know mine would have been. But she knew she couldn’t save him. It wasn’t part of the plan.
Though it may not have looked like it in the moment, He would be the one doing the saving.
As she watched them nail her battered son to a cross, the cruelest form of death in Roman times, did the thought cross her mind to beg them to take her instead? Let me take his place! Please just don’t hurt my son anymore. A mother will go to great lengths to protect her children. But she knew that wasn’t part of the plan.
Kneeling there at the foot of the cross, gazing helplessly up at his pain-filled eyes, what was she feeling? Hopeless? Even now, in this dark hour, was she holding out for a miracle? This miracle-working man, who healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, even walked on water, was now hanging helplessly from a wooden cross. They taunted him, challenged him to work a miracle now, and deliver himself. He could have, but he didn’t. It wasn’t part of the plan.
Hope whispers, God has a plan.
As the mother of two boys, I experience so many different emotions when I think of Jesus’ mother and the agony she must have endured watching her son endure the cross. Mary has to be one of the strongest women who has ever lived. I would love to meet her and talk with her and ask her how she did it. How she got through it and kept her sanity. Watching my boys go through their own hurts and heartaches, has just about done me in. And obviously, there is no comparison to what any of us will ever suffer, compared to what Jesus suffered. How did she hold herself together in the midst of such horrendous pain? The plan.
Waiting it out was part of the plan. God made it clear to Mary from the beginning, what His plan was for Mary, for Jesus, for all of mankind. What would have happened if she had deviated from the plan, and tried to rescue him instead of waiting for God’s perfect timing? Would the rest of the plan have unfolded? Would we be celebrating Resurrection Sunday at all? When we try to demonstrate our own power, we prevent God from demonstrating his. I am grateful that Mary didn’t interfere with God’s plan, even if she felt hopeless.
Hopelessness sets the stage for a miracle.
Perhaps her eyes were still swollen from so much weeping, when she heard the news: the tomb where they laid his lifeless body was empty! Jesus had risen! Can you imagine the tears that must have flooded Mary’s eyes once again, but this time tears of joy! Her son had conquered the power of death, just as He said He would, when He was raised from the dead. Every doubt that Mary or any of Jesus disciples might have experienced that God would stick with the plan He had outlined, was emptied along with the tomb. The power of Jesus resurrection speaks to the power of God’s plan for all of us. He knows what He is doing. He has a plan. Even when life seems out of control, He is in control.
The same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead on Easter morning, is available to you. Power to start over. Power to keep going when life gets hard. Power to change. Power to live life confidently. Power to forgive. Power to love. Power to hope. The Bible clearly states this in Ephesians 1:19-20: “I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great his power is to help those who believe him. It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.”
It’s hard to grasp his plan when we have our own agenda. He can’t do His work, when we are in his way, trying to control everything. I don’t always understand everything God is doing in my life, but I trust his plan. That’s what faith is all about. Life is complicated, but God isn’t. He loves you. He wants to have a relationship with you. It’s really that simple. God has a plan for you too. Jeremiah 29:11 says so, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Have you been feeling hopeless about something? That’s just the kind of backdrop God needs to do His best work. Resurrection Sunday is coming. The power to sustain you as you wait for your own personal miracle can only be found in Him. He IS hope.
Let’s take a lesson from Mary. Saving him was never part of the plan; Him saving us is always the only plan. He can rescue you from hopelessness; all you need to do is open your heart to Him. You will never be the same. That, in itself is a miracle.