There are three different phases in any and every time of change:
The way things were
The time of transition
The way things will be
The first phase, the way things were, is very real to us. We were there. We recall the taste, the sights, the smells, the sounds, and the feel of it. We experienced it. We remember the reality. In contrast, the things that will be are in the future: We can neither taste, see, hear, or feel, the future. The future is unreal to us. There is no reality to experience nor to remember. It is invisible to us.
That is why the second phase, the time of transition, is the most painful. All we have is loss. We lost the way things were… but we have not yet entered the future. We aren’t where we used to be, and we aren’t where we will be. We are no where. Nothing. Emptiness.
In the time of transition, like the disciples at the time of the crucifixion, we find ourselves confused, sad, and fearful. For the disciples, all they had was loss. The great times of the past were gone. No more turning water into wine. No more walking on water. No more miracles and parables. Sure, Jesus had told them that great ministry was ahead… a greater experience of God than they’d yet experienced, but those were just words. The future had not arrived, so it was both out of sight and out of mind. Looking back, we know that the power of the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit were about to be theirs. But they couldn’t look back – nor could they look ahead. All they had, at that time, was the middle phase, the time of transition. The most painful time. The time of nothing. All loss, no gain.
So what did the disciples do, during their time of transition?
They prayed. They drew nearer to God. They sought the closeness and comfort of God’s loving, gracious presence. Jesus had taught them to think of God as Abba (“Papa”). So they climbed up into Papa’s lap, wrapped their little arms around Papa, and listened to Papa’s gentle and loving voice: “Shhh, it’s alright, it’s alright. I’m here. I’m with you. Everything will be alright.”
It will be alright. But “will be” isn’t now. It’s future. You can not touch or see the future. So “it will be alright” doesn’t comfort very much in the middle phase, the transition phase of all loss and no gain. But, even though the words may not help, the presence does. The presence of God can be comforting, nourishing, assuring, warm and sweet. Crawling up into Papa’s arms, sitting on Papa’s lap is the way to negotiate the painful middle phase of transition.
So follow the disciples. Pray. Draw nearer to God. Seek the closeness and comfort of God’s loving, gracious presence. You may even find that in his presence, the middle stage of transition may become the most powerful and nourishing phase of all.