Devotion Through Difficulty
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We all want to have a faith that will hold strong during life’s storms. Many of them can be severe, shaking the very foundation of our being. They can bring us to places we never thought we’d ever be, questioning everything we held dear about God.
In these times, it’s good to have role models. Either someone we know or stories we read of those who know what it is to lose everything and yet hold on to Jesus through it all. And even when they lose it all, and then lose some more, they still remain steadfast. I find such an example in the Mary Magdalene.
Before she came to Jesus her life was very different. It was one of torment. Luke 8:2 tells us she really knew about deliverance for she was one, “… out of whom had come seven demons” (NKJV). But Jesus brings lasting peace into her life. He provides for her a joy that is beyond measure. It is no surprise to see her following the Lord from place to place, attending to Him. Jesus had changed her life. And the greatest blessing was just being with Him. She placed all hopes in Him.
So … it must have been devastating for her (and others) to witness the whole ordeal of His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. This was her Lord and Master. He was the one who had shown such power to deliver her from seven demons. Surely He would have enough to overcome this? But she watched as the source of her hope was beaten beyond recognition. She probably stood there in stunned horror as He was raised on the cross. And then, her Lord dies and is laid in a tomb.
I’m quite sure this was not how she thought things would go once she came to Christ. Ever been there? Ever get to a point in your Christian walk where the devastation or disappointment is so deep, or just one too many, that you wonder if this was what you signed on for? Don’t look at me so piously … we all have!
But the scene I find in John 20 is amazing. Mary teaches us so much in one simple phrase. In this passage, it is now three days since Jesus had died. She has attended to His body each day. Some could say, “What else did she have to go to?” Regardless of that mindset, she is faithful to attend to Him as she is processing the reality that the hope she placed in Him might have died three days ago.
Then … two angels come to her as she approaches the empty tomb. On top of all the other pain she was feeling, now His body is gone. She doesn’t even have His body to mourn over. What else can go wrong? Again, ever been there? She begins to weep as two angels approach her and ask “Why are you weeping?” Her response … “Because they have taken away my Lord” (John 20:13 – NKJV). I see something powerful in her saying they have taken away MY Lord.
She is in pain and grieving. Add to that now something else has gone wrong in that she believes He’s been taken away. But through it all, she is still holding onto Jesus. She is still owning Him has HER Lord. What she did not understand about Jesus didn’t change what she did understand about Him. There is a message there for us all.
We all experience rough seasons. Not just challenging times but times of devastation can visit each one of us. And these times can come all at once in a single event or accumulate as disappointments build over time. We can all reach a point where there is just so much that doesn’t make any sense to us. Those “where is God?” moments.
What Sister Magdalene teaches us focuses on the reward and blessing of holding onto and staying faithful to the Lord even when the disappointments won’t stop. The scriptures don’t say the angels found her just crying or sad. It says they found her weeping! I’m sure she sat there and thought, “How much more can I take?” But that didn’t stop her, when questioned, from declaring that in spite of her pain, Jesus was HER Lord. That gets a big … “you go girl!”
There are no simple solutions to the complicated disappointments many of us go through. But Mary shows us that even in those times, our best (and only) place to turn is Jesus. There was nothing else to try. Any other life would just take further away from her Savior. Even in the snowballing of letdowns, Jesus was still worthy of her devotion and loyalty. And He is worthy of ours as well.
I pray, if you’re going through a trying season, for His power to guard your heart and keep you close. But I also pray that you will chose, no matter what other options the devil presents, to continue to own your faith. I’ll be the first to admit that living the Christian life is not always easy. But I can also proclaim with all assurance and confidence that, even in the worst of times, it is the only way to live. Nothing else this world can offer comes close!
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