There is a holy mystery in recognizing that pain births joy. How our pain can be transformed into something beautiful is beyond me, but the signs are all around. Pressure makes diamonds. Labor brings babies. Good Friday leads to Resurrection Sunday.
Pain awakens joy.
This is the reality of Easter.
We know God turns worlds upside down in the most unexpected ways, and I often wonder if I would have recognized this had I walked those dusty roads, laying my palm branches before the man who came into town on a donkey who was crucified days later.
My heart can be so practical.
And life always moves beyond that first moment of knowing resurrection.
We are so forgetful. Even when we’ve been the recipient of his grace, time and again, we still struggle, clinging to the hope of the joy set before us.
I can only imagine how Mary’s heart must have burst with joy as she met the risen Jesus, with all her uncertainty fading away when she heard him say her name.
He changed everything for her, but I doubt it was how she would have planned it. Did she envision years of following him, helping provide for his needs with the other women? Had she any idea that her time with him would be so short and the rest of her days would be lived without his earthly presence?
I wonder if he ever defended her to the twelve, advocating her worth as one who was once wild and possessed. Having your demons cast out is one thing, living among other human beings who know your scars is quite another.
I’m sure she never would have imagined being baptized by Spirit indwelling power, an internal Advocate before God and man.
But even still…
Did she struggle with the process of being transformed? Did she ache in the long years following Christ’s ascension, never again physically sitting at the feet of her friend and Lord, as one fully loved as a woman created in His image and freed from such slavery?
Did her heart ache in those days after Easter, as she went about the business of life? While the resurrection changed everything, daily living in this reality still had its trials, as it does today. When the gender barriers Jesus fought to break down were again erected, did she remember how he called her name when she was at the tomb? Did her heart skip when she thought of being the first one he showed himself to?
Did brokenness ever define her again? Did the Spirit do battle with her flesh, causing her to forget her belovedness until she returned to his scars, in awe of a God who would sit with her, letting her touch them, as the marks of his humanity remained in his resurrected body, reminding her that by his wounds she was healed? She must have returned to the memory of his scars often. I’m sure they brought her comfort when she dealt with her own wounds, remembering her past and fearing what lied ahead.
Because even after resurrection, we still stumble around in the dark. We still wrestle with being redeemed as we fail to recognize it happening all around us. We see life through such a veil.
But he is at work, moving tirelessly through our world, inviting us to be a part of it. Inviting us to see with new eyes, hear with new ears, noticing all around there are signs pointing to his goodness. That life itself is such a good gift. The sweat and tears that water our lives bring forth such joy.
We celebrate Christ conquering death and rising to bring new life on Easter Sunday. And then Monday comes with all the same battles as the week before. But somehow we face them. We play the Story over and over again in our minds until it’s so engrained in who we are that it does become who we are. No matter how often we forget, we are resurrection people. This is our reality, no matter what circumstances temporarily suppress it. We are people that rise with him, in him, and through him. Until the pain of this world is finally lifted and our joy is complete in seeing him face to face. This is the drama we enact in the days following Easter.