Which Side of the Coin Do You See?

 

 

Psalm77

I don’t know the circumstances that caused Asaph to pen this psalm but they sound dire!

-I was deep in trouble

-I prayed but my soul was not comforted

-I am longing for His help

-I can’t sleep

-I can’t even pray

-Has the Lord rejected me?

-Will He never again be kind to me?

-Is His unfailing love gone forever?

-Have His promises permanently failed?

-Has God forgotten to be gracious?

-Has He slammed the door on His compassion?

 

For 10 verses Asaph cries and shouts out to God in fear, brokenness, hurt and despair. He feels abandon by God. He is wondering what has changed in his relationship with God that makes him feel this way. All seems lost… fear and pain rule his thoughts. And then verse 11 says, “But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.”

 

-Your wonderful deeds are constantly in my thoughts

-I can’t stop thinking about your mighty works

-Your ways are holy

-Is there any God as mighty as You?

-You are the God of wonders!

-You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations

-By your strong arm, you redeem your people

 

Asaph is in terrible circumstances. He is gripped by despair and fear because his circumstances have grown bigger, more awful and all consuming. He isn’t able to see or feel anything but abandonment by God. And then… Asaph remembers. His mind is suddenly redirected. Asaph begins to think on past experiences with God that remind him of God’s faithfulness and goodness.  For Asaph, the coin has flipped. His thoughts make a 180 degree turn.  His mindset is completely changed from wallowing in his negative circumstances to concentrating on God’s power and might. Remembering truths about God, and setting your mind on those truths is powerful! It doesn’t appear that Asaph’s circumstances changed at all. His problems weren’t suddenly solved. Asaph’s outlook changed because he quit looking at his mess and started looking at God. G. Campbell Morgan said “The message of this Psalm is that to brood on sorrow is to be broken and disheartened, while to see God is to sing on the darkest day. Once we come to know that our years are of His right hand, there is light everywhere.”

 

I experienced this for myself last week. A friend invited me out to the country to take a walk with her. As we walked, we talked and each shared some things that we had been struggling with. As I was sharing my struggle, I was telling her every angle of my issue to help her understand that there was no human way out of this issue. No one can see the future and the only way to solve my “problem” was to know the exact circumstances I would face seven months from now. I knew there were no answers because I had been stewing over the issue for the past five months and I kept landing in helplessness. When I finally took a breath, she stopped walking and said, “Do you mind if we stop right now and pray together over this issue?” Amazing wisdom from a dear friend at the right time stopped me in my tracks and refocused my weary and frustrated mind on God instead of my problem. As we stood in the woods with the sun shining on our cheeks, we dropped my issue in God’s hands. For me, the relief was palpable. Let’s be clear. I still don’t know the future. I don’t have any idea how my issue is going to shake out in real time seven months from now, but I got my mind off of the problem and on to my God who cares about this issue as much as I do. I can look back over His faithfulness in the last forty years of my relationship with Him and know that He will not abandon me when this “issue” takes place. He will be there, and He will work. I don’t know what those days will look like and I don’t know exactly how He will work, but I know He is trustworthy. Getting my mind off of my problem and on to Him completely changed my outlook. What is filling your mind today with fear, worry or dread? Can you stop, right now and recall His holy ways, His wonderful deeds, His awesome power and His mighty works?

Home

 

Psalm 65

 

This past year has had all of us spending more time in our homes than maybe ever before in our lifetimes. Our home has become an office, a restaurant, a hotel, a meeting place, and a place of safety and refuge like never before. My husband and I have reevaluated how we use many of the spaces in our home. We have changed some rooms to make them more functional and we have completely switched the function of some rooms to make them fit our new way of living. We seem to be spending more time scrutinizing each space and thinking “out of the box” in some cases so we can get the most function and comfort out of each area inside and outside our home. We want our home to function for our needs and to give sanctuary, rest, connection and refreshment to those who visit or stay with us.

Psalm 65:4 talks about the joy for those brought near to God…the ones who live in His holy courts and the festivities awaiting those inside His holy temple. These words talk about God in a way that I haven’t explored very much before now. They describe God as our host. Think of visiting a resort, Bed and Breakfast or even just spending the weekend with friends or family. When you are a guest, there is implied expectation that your needs will be met. You go trusting that your rights to security, protection, help and food will be met by your host. David has experienced God as his host and takes the opportunity to mention it here in this Psalm. Several thoughts I have around this word picture:

 

-We are all invited and welcome.

 

-You have to decide to go. You won’t experience the benefits of “God’s resort” if you won’t choose to put yourself there.

 

-Our “Host” has every resource at His fingertips.

 

-We have to choose to live by “house rules” if we decide to stay. Our self-serving way of living will clash with other guests and dishonor our generous “Host”.

 

-The benefit of living with our “Host” allows for much deeper relationship than one maintained by phone calls or occasional dinners.

 

-The festivities are beyond compare!

 

-There is unending help from the “Host” to grow and mature as a person.

 

-We have access to our “Host’s” presence at any time.

 

-We get to stay forever!!!

Psalm 53

 

 

Well friends, this is tough one for me to write on. David does a bang up job letting us know that people are corrupt, their actions are evil, and no one does good. He reminds us that God is looking for good people and seeking out the wise, but the reality is that none of us are righteous or wise without God’s work in us. I know that David speaks the truth…none of us are inherently good but this Psalm sounds harsh and cutting.  It exposes the truth that we like to look past so we feel better about ourselves. Who wouldn’t prefer to overlook our true state of being without God’s intervention in our lives? Maybe this dose of reality is exactly what we are to be considering today. If we are willing to get real with who we were before God’s grace and help in our lives, it makes His intervention that much sweeter.

The note in my Bible on this psalm reads, “While God is not affected by what we think of him, we are definitely and eternally affected by what God thinks of us. This Psalm begins with the bold claim that there is no God, but by verses 4-5 the true reason for rejecting God has become clear. The reason people reject God has nothing to do with God’s existence and everything to do with people’s sinfulness. In our desire to do wrong, we treat God as if he doesn’t exist.” This stings! I don’t want to think about myself through this lens. It is ugly and self-indulgent. It is also true. The saddest part for me is that after Jesus’ sacrificial gift of buying me out of my sin, I can still struggle with these thoughts. Sometimes I still treat God as if he doesn’t exist so I can do the rotten things I want to do. This is humbling to write. It is embarrassing to admit this truth to all who read here. I want so badly to be able to say that my gratefulness for what He has done for me stops me in my tracks when I am tempted to be self-indulgent. This struggle is not over for me but I can honestly say that after being in relationship with him for years, I see improvement. I am experiencing more and more times when the temptation doesn’t win. I am starting to see that the break in my relationship with God is not worth the temporary pleasure of the sin. This battle of fighting sin will last until my death on this earth. The perfection of choosing right every single time is one of the draws of heaven.

I want to make note that God chose to love me and make a way for me to be washed clean from the consequences of my sin while I was in the midst of sinning. I never got “good enough” or went a certain number of days without sinning to earn His attention or favor. He loved me in my mess. He reached out to me when I was disregarding Him. He made the ultimate sacrifice for me before I was even born. Where else can you find this kind of love? Who else is willing and capable of taking the punishment for what we have done wrong?

I trust that the more time I sit with the reality of my selfishness, the more I will be changed by His willingness to gift me a way out of what I deserve because of His deep love for me. I am praying this morning that I will become less able to lie to myself about God’s existence when I am tempted to serve myself, and more drawn to the richness of relationship with him instead.

The Afflicted

Psalm 41

David is not well as he writes these words. It is unclear whether he is physically sick or struggling with depression from years of running for his life. Either way he is hurt that his friends and acquaintances are not supportive of him as he struggles. They seem to be turning on him and questioning his character because of his circumstances. They are assuming he couldn’t possibly be faithfully following God’s guidelines because of the struggle he is in. They spend time with David in the name of friendship, but really use their visit to gather information about him so they can gossip with others about him later.

Because of his hurt and frustration, David starts this passage with the words, “Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor!” The word “poor” could be exchanged with the word “afflicted” to help us better understand David’s exclamation. David knows God’s desire for us to love each other and care for each other. David has witnessed and experienced God’s blessings when he himself has been compassionate and cared for others relief. Do you remember the reason that David is running for his life? (He was a family friend of the Kings. King Saul saw potential in David and brought him up into leadership in the kingdom. As David became more influential, the people started loving him and hoping he would become the king instead of Saul. It stands to reason that a good part of the people’s love for David was because of his Godly care for the afflicted and poor. People were drawn to his compassion and care as a leader. Saul became insanely jealous of David and decided that ending David’s life was the best way to protect his job. Thus the years of David’s running for his life.) You see his frustration, right? David has worked hard, honored God in his life, experienced the joys of helping others and then had to deal with a boss who was trying to “off” him because he was good at his job.    …and now his friends are turning against him and imagining the worst of him. David sees that his friends are fickle, forgetting David’s true character and it compounds his affliction.

Hopefully David’s pain can encourage us to do better than his friends did when we encounter the afflicted. Matt 5:7 says, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” So what does being merciful look like? Maybe we start with the very least, which would be to notice. Noticing, requires slowing our pace enough to pay attention to those around us. We have to be willing to stop the running agenda in our minds for a split second to pay attention to someone else. We have to make space in our minds to care for and have compassion for others. Having mercy is to consider others and their circumstances, whether their issues be in mind, body or the state of their beings. Mercy is tenderness, it is checking to see how one is holding up under their circumstances.

Until I sat with this chapter for a few hours, I think I would have described mercy as an action. I would argue that most Christ followers would ask, “What can I do?” or how can I help?” when they encounter suffering. This response is good and Godly when followed with action. But after studying this passage more deeply today, I might consider describing mercy more as an attitude than just action. Maybe this slight change in thinking is a testament to my immaturity. It is easier for me to hear about someone who needs help and ask what can I do to meet the need, than to take the time to notice affliction in the people around me. I want my heart to grow in tenderness and compassion for others so I can notice when someone is hurting.

Nature Proves

Psalm 29

 

I have believed that God is who he says he is for many years. I decided as a young girl that God’s word was true, that God loved me and cared about me, and that he made a way for me to spend eternity with him. I don’t know why that decision was “easy” for me to make and some others spend their lives wrestling with what they learn, never really choosing to allow God to be their Father. I will probably never understand why it makes sense to some and not to others, but I am grateful that I started my relationship with God so many years ago. God has steadied me, protected me, held me firm in “storms”, loved me creatively and personally, taught me, comforted me, never left me, taken the weight of things too heavy for me to carry, and the list goes on. I cannot write a comprehensive account of all the times I have watched God act in my stead or love me unconditionally. His “personhood” or character is too big for me to document accurately or completely encompass here.

After many years of relationship with him, I am still awed and enlightened by experiencing his creativity, character and might in nature. Yesterday when I opened my blind and looked out the window, my yard was transformed to a white wonderland. Who else can blanket a state, town or even a yard in white frozen water? …and if that isn’t amazing enough, each of those miniscule flakes of snow was designed with originality, creativity and beauty. This is only one facet of his splendor that only portions of the earth ever see. His vastness, ability and attention to detail can make my head explode with wonder.

Nature forces us to look outside of ourselves. It is bigger than we can comprehend. We are powerless to create any one component of it, and it’s organization and harmony point to higher power than we posses. How can we possibly not seek to find the actual creator when we stop to look at the earth, our solar system or even our own bodies? We are powerless to pull oxygen out of the air in our lungs and force it into our own blood. We can’t make our hearts beat. We cannot make our fingernails grow or reproduce one hair on our own heads. God has created all of the systems that repeatedly do these tasks in each of us without one conscious thought from us. He is the one who carved the mountains, stops the ocean on the sand, brings the sun up every morning, changes the seasons, swirls the wind across the desert sand, teaches the birds to fly, feeds the amoeba, …the list is endless. David spends about eight verses in this chapter listing the forces in nature that shout out God’s voice and display his might. It is obvious from David’s words that he believes wholeheartedly that God created the earth and manages every facet of its function. David sees and hears God all throughout the earth and cries out to the heavenly beings to honor the Lord for his glory and strength.

 

 

Rock Bottom

 

Psalm 17

 

When is the last time you were at the end of yourself? Do you remember that dreaded feeling of knowing you have nothing left to give, no more resources at your disposal to make your situation better? Have you felt total loss of control? If we live enough years, we all, at some point, land in a dire situation that we are powerless to change. A lot of times that breaking point shows up in a health crisis. Sometimes it’s a relationship ending, the loss of a job or a terrible accident…have I touched on your experience yet? I can think of two major ones in my own life. The first was cancer, the second was when our son rolled his jeep. Both sets of circumstances fast tracked me to the end of myself. In each case death was on the line…with cancer it was my own life, and the jeep accident our son’s. Devastating doesn’t adequately describe the moment you hear the diagnosis from the doctor or get the phone call from an ER nurse. I couldn’t function. I couldn’t even stand when I first saw our son. My knees literally went weak. There was nothing I could do to change either of these circumstances. I was desperate for help outside of myself. Psalm 17 speaks of David’s desperation and fear for his own life. David is honest in this text about his need for help outside of himself. This getting to the end of oneself, forces us to look at other options besides our normal resources. When we find ourselves lacking and powerless, our only hope is that there is someone who is more powerful than we are.

David’s words, “I am praying to you because I know you will answer” are my hope. I believe like David did that God is worth calling out to because he knows me, and my circumstances, and has the power to change them. “Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways” reminds me how personally and individually God responds to my cries for help. “By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge” tells me of God’s ability when I am at the end of my own. God’s willingness to rescue is the core of his being. He knows that on our own each of us ends in death and separation from him. His desire is that we not be separated from Him. God loves us and wants to spend his time with us here on earth as well as during eternity.

I think it is interesting that in the beginning of this text we get to see more of David’s relationship with God than just his cries for help that he writes at the end. He starts out reminding God that he has been honest and determined not to sin. David has asked God to test his thoughts and examine his heart for wrongdoing. David is not saying he is perfect and without sin, but he is professing his love for God and his desire and discipline to live according to God’s ways. There is evidence of real relationship, communication, understanding, and desire to love each other between David and God. I think this window into God and David’s relationship is beautiful and compelling.

I can’t find words that adequately express my gratefulness to God for his willingness and desire for relationship with me. I am overwhelmed that he chooses to spend his time with me. I am unworthy. I recognize that I am still living and that our son’s life was spared because of God’s power and his personal care in our lives. I am humbled by God’s gifts and attention.

Why I Believe

 

Psalm 5

 

Psalm 5 has God’s personhood written all over it. As we read though this chapter we see the thoughts and actions of the Living God.

~God hears

~Listens

~Takes no pleasure in wickedness

~Hates all who do evil

~Destroys all who tell lies

~Detests murderers and deceivers

~Leads

~Is refuge

~Spreads protection

~Fills with joy those who love Him

~Blesses the godly

~Surrounds His people with His shield of love

These thoughts and actions must come from a living being. No figure or dead person can think or take action. I have to believe that David would not have written this chapter had he not experienced all of these actions. The only other explanation I can come up with for Him to write these things if were not true, is that he could have been a lunatic and out of his mind, but I find it hard to believe that a crazy persons words would have lasted more than 2000 years. There is no point in preserving nonsense, so I choose to believe that this list accurately describes who God is and what He is capable of doing.

 

 

 

This chapter also shows us that David had a personal relationship with God because he spoke to Him as he would any other human in his life. David asks God to:

~Hear him

~Pay attention to him

~Listen to him

~Lead him

~Make His way plain to follow

~Declare his enemies guilty

~Let his enemies be caught in their own traps

~Drive away his enemies

Why would David cry out for help from someone or something powerless to save him? He was running for his life from a powerful king and the king’s armies whose orders were to kill him. David was a desperate man who needed supernatural power to protect him and he knew Who to call on. His lifetime of relationship with God made it second nature to ask for help from the One he knew was his only hope. You can see David’s respect for God, reverence for God, and friendship with God all throughout. He knows what pleases God and what God hates. David knows what God loves and how God loves His people. David knows what God is capable of and who God blesses. This chapter speaks of a real relationship between two living beings.

 

 

I want to experience God, trust God with my life, and know God as intimately as David did. I want to be characterized as one who:

~Cries out to God my King for help

~Brings my requests to Him

~Knows that the proud may not stand in His presence

~Experiences His unfailing love

~Worships Him with deepest awe

~Rejoices in His refuge

~Loves His name

 

It amazes me how much of God’s personhood and character are revealed in just 12 verses. We are given thousands more to explore and learn from. We get to see hundreds of people’s relationships with God throughout the Bible so we can learn more about who God is and how He responds to us. He wants to make His way plain for us to follow, but we have to want to follow Him. We have to spend time with Him. We have to choose Him as our King. Do today’s verses give you a deeper understanding of how God interacts with you? Do you see more of what He wants to be allowed to do in your life? You get to decide…He won’t choose for you even though He could.

 

Luke 2:1-20

I can’t stop thinking about Mary this advent season. She is most likely a young teenager, smack in the middle of those awkward years, trying to figure out where she will fit into society and what her future might hold. Her hand has been given to Joseph for marriage, which would have been very common for a girl her age, but she has also been visited by an angel and told she is pregnant when she knows she is sexually pure. This is so much to take in and so much more to have to explain to her fiancé, parents, friends at “church” and the town. A baby doesn’t stay hidden or secret for long…pregnancy becomes obvious over time. The weight of all of this must have been unbearable for her until she was able to start unloading this information and experiencing that she was believed by some. Then a trip, right around the time she was due. Her mom isn’t with her to help her or bring reassurance when she goes into labor. She is tired from travel, not at home, maybe in a barn or a cave with a young man who probably hasn’t even seen a birth before let alone helped with one, and she begins the process of delivery. My heart goes out to her. I remember the fear and inadequate feelings I had when our first was born and I was more than twice Mary’s age, had a hospital and doctors with me, a husband who I knew and had loved for years, and a support team including two sets of parents and a slew of siblings and friends ready to jump at the call for help at any moment! This poor girl…talk about waiting and anticipation!

 

…And then the shepherds…out in the wilderness with their sheep, far from home and probably weeks or months without seeing other humans besides each other. This is what their lives are about. They are watching and protecting their animals, constantly moving them to stay in good grazing areas with a water supply close enough to keep them all in good health. It is their job to keep the predators at bay and find the food and water supplies needed to keep the flock growing and healthy. Then one night it is completely different than ever before! In the middle of the night the angel of the Lord appears among them. They are terrified! The angel says, “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior has been born and you will find Him in the city of David wrapped in cloth lying in a manger. If this isn’t scary enough, the angel is joined by a vast host of others…the armies of heaven…praising God! I love the word choice in the living Bible here. “Vast host” doesn’t pull up the same word picture in my mind that “armies of heaven” does. Hopefully most of us have not experienced war first hand, but all of us have seen movies depicting war. The ones with the mass of armed bodies as far as the eye can see advancing across a field to take out their enemies. The scenes that make your stomach drop when you see eminent attack heading your way, because the filmmakers have put you at the other side of the field or down in the valley with the group being attacked. You grasp the feeling that those shepherds must have felt when that sky opened up to more than one army of angels. The difference on this night is that the army was announcing the birth of the King instead of coming to wipe out a nation. They came praising God! The shepherds knew Who they had been visited by and quickly went to the village to find Mary, Joseph and the baby. They found all just as the angel had told them. After their visit, they told everyone what had happened and what the angel had told them. Then they went back to their flocks glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.

 

After surviving delivery, Mary began shifting her focus to caring for this new little person. If you have kids, do you remember that reality settling over you? “This new life is completely dependent on me for survival.” It is weighty. I’m sure Mary’s mind was whirling with all that had happened that night…and then a group of dirty shepherds shows up to “visit” her baby. So strange and awkward for all of them. I can’t imagine living through those moments in time or sharing my new baby with a group of strangers, but God designed this set of circumstances. This was no average night. The excitement must have been palpable. The Savior, the Messiah, the Lord has been born! Hope has arrived! This is great joy for all people.

 

It’s getting close…are you getting excited? Are you making time to ponder these events in your heart like Mary did? Is your heart ready to welcome Him or are you overwhelmed with your to-do list and scrambling to get everything accomplished! Can we carve out a few minutes each day even in the busyness to anticipate His coming and welcome Him in our hearts?

Inextinguishable Light

John 1-8

 

“The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

 

This morning as we have entered the season of waiting and preparation, I am remembering the meanings of the Advent candles that Jacob shared with us at the beginning of Advent. Do you remember the meaning of the first one? It symbolizes the hope we find in Christ. We are currently living in the weeks made up of shortest days of the year. Here in the U.S. it is colder and darker than any weeks in our year. These weeks may feel darker than other years because of Covid, political unrest, and the divisions and anger so pervasive among people these days. We all feel the difference in our lives with the shorter days and general unrest among people. In the midst of this physical darkness and the spiritual darkness that feels more palpable than other years, John’s words are precious. In the darkest of days, the true light shines brighter than ever!

It was darker 2000 years ago than we think 2020 has been. Remember that God had not spoken to His people for more than 400 years. Matthew 4:16 tells us that God’s people were sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death. This was not God’s desire. When God first created people He was free to dwell with them. As sin grew, He moved to the temple for a bit of separation, to be set apart from the unholy. He was forced to move farther away from people as people turned further away from Him. He continued to call out to his people through their leaders, pleading with them to return to Him. When they rejected His leaders and took kings of their choosing He was left trying to get their attention with prophets and warnings about what was to come if they didn’t turn back to Him. And then He went silent. Can you imagine a society of people living for generations with no word from God? These people dwelled in darkness. They were at war, living in a distressed world and drowning in a sea of sorrows. Jesus came as light shining in the darkness. He came to bring comfort, joy and peace! He came to announce good news of great joy for all people! He came from heaven’s generosity, the perfect gift to all of us.

This hope, this light in the darkness, this perfect gift is what we are preparing for and anticipating. He came so that everyone might believe. Those of us who know Him and already have relationship with Him are encouraged and refreshed when we take the time to anticipate His coming. It is a chance to re-center our lives. It is a time to take back the unhealthy patterns we have fallen into throughout the year. It is a time to renew our minds and set them back on His gift and His inextinguishable light in our lives and in our world. I came across the thoughts of a pastor in Minneapolis named David Mathis last week. I’m going to close with his words because they were so meaningful to me throughout this past week.

 

“Advent doesn’t pretend the darkness is gone. Our lives may yet grow darker. But Advent looks darkness square in the eye and issues this great promise for our season of waiting: darkness will not overcome the Light. It is only a matter of time.”

Believe

 

 

John 20

 

I am fascinated with surgery! I’m a hairdresser by trade, but any chance I get to watch a surgery on tv…I am in!! I can’t get enough of seeing the inner workings of our bodies or the repairs needed to help them continue to function. I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I like watching Dr Pimple Popper, My Feet Are Killing Me and anything else that contains surgery. I also like to “practice” as much “medicine” as I can. I have removed sutures for people, given shots to friends who’s husbands couldn’t stomach the job, steri-stripped my daughter’s incision back together when it opened after staples were removed and a few other “procedures” that might make some of you queasy to read about so I’ll stop here. When friends or family have a procedure, I am always interested to hear about their experience and what their incision or affected area looks like. If they live far away and I know I won’t get to see them during the healing process I ask them to send pictures. I know I can’t really get my mind around their experience or how they are feeling unless I can see their wound. I want to understand what happened and I don’t feel like I can really grasp what they went through unless I can get my eyes on them and see for myself. In our reading for today, Jesus’ friends struggled to believe what was before them until they were able to see the physical proof they needed to see with their own eyes.

John 20 tells us about Jesus resurrection after his crucifixion. When we talk about and read about the end of Jesus’ life, I feel like we are mostly looking at the events through Jesus’ experience. After he dies, we all know what is coming next because we know who he is. We know he raises from the dead…it’s the best part of the story and we long for that part to come. But we didn’t live the events like Jesus’ family and friends did. For them His death was the end…just like death is the end of life on earth when we lose someone we love. They were devastated, broken, sad beyond belief and probably at great loss because their ministry felt over. When his body went missing, those who loved him could only think that someone had stolen him. They were frantic to find his body and get him back in his proper final resting spot. The horrible circumstances just kept piling on for them!

And then he appeared… first to Mary, then to his friends and then again about a week after the first time to his friends again. Can you put yourself in their shoes? Can you imagine the person you just watched die, sat through funeral services for and buried or placed in a tomb appearing in a room with you without using the door to enter? Do you have the “no way” thoughts, the fear, the skittishness in believing that this is really your friend? I have only had one experience in my life that comes close to this kind unbelievableness. There was a car accident and several students were killed. My uncle is a pastor and the youth pastor he worked with lost his daughter Whitney in that accident. Whitney’s family planned her funeral and my uncle officiated the services while grieving with his close friends. It was devastating for all. About three weeks after her funeral, it was finally soaking in for me that she was actually gone. My dad called me one afternoon and simply said, “Whitney is alive”. I literally had no words. I couldn’t believe what he was saying. I couldn’t grasp the truth until he explained that Whitney’s body had gotten confused at the accident scene with another girl’s. Until “the girl” in the hospital woke from her coma and started to speak, no one knew that it was actually Whitney instead of Laura. In this case, Whitney was never dead, but every time I read the events of Jesus’ resurrection I think of my dad’s voice over the phone telling me “Whitney is alive”.

Jesus’ friends had trouble believing and processing the events they were living through. They needed to see with their eyes and touch with their hands the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side. Those wounds were the proof they needed to make sense of what was happening. They needed to see to believe that their friend and leader was actually killed, buried and now alive. It was too strange and different from what they knew to accept without seeing. God knew they would need to see Jesus. He knew that witnessing Jesus’ death would make it too hard to believe that he was alive without seeing him for themselves.

 

John 20:29-30 “Jesus told them, You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me. 30-The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.”