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The Empty Tomb

Woman, why are you weeping?” the angel said to Mary. As if that empty tomb should have been a comfort.

“Whom are you seeking?” Jesus asked her.

There are days that God speaks so loudly and dramatically that no one on earth can ignore it. They can try to bomb it, mock it, reject it—but not ignore it.Then there are the other days, the after days, the “blessed are those who have not seen me,” days, the “take up your cross and follow me,” days.

Wouldn’t you know it, my friend, that we would make it through this winter, this season of losing and grief, and stay strong—just to be laid out by this stupid flu when the forsythia is finally blooming, when it seemed like we’d made it? You laying there, having trouble taking a breath, me unable to sleep because it feels like my head is about to explode.

Self-pity is defined as self-absorbed unhappiness over one’s situation—especially the overindulgent, excessive kind. But what is just the right amount of unhappiness? All I know is that self-pity is a stop on the road to despair, not just for us, but for everyone around us.

There’s that inspirational quote about remembering that you’ve survived 100% of the bad days you’ve had up to this point. True, but it rings hollow for some reason. Maybe because it’s not just surviving that we’re called to—it’s how we survive that’s important.

“Whom are you seeking?”

I’ve survived 100% of my bad days, but there are some that should have killed me. More than one of my bad days have defied the laws of physics and science and left me inexplicably here, when others weren’t. Which taught me that God is the one who chooses—He chooses when and whether or not the tomb is empty.

But we also choose: whether to dwell in indulgent self-pity or to dry our eyes and not make our bad day everyone’s bad day.

“Woman, why are you weeping?”

To take up our cross in this tiniest of ways, die to self, follow him and continue to hope. If I know anything, I know you, and I know you’ll make the right choice. Or at least want to, with all your heart. Doing it is important, but so is the heart, the wanting to. If Old Testament David—the king of bad days and bad choices—taught us anything, he taught us that.

And there it is—we make the choice, but we don’t have to make it alone. Even on the after days, the silent days, when we haven’t fully understood what that empty tomb means and so we weep, God gives us each other. If Jesus the man could make the right choice, and David could want the right choice, and you can continue to hope—then so can I, and survive it, 100% of the time. That’s the empty tomb, and you know what? It is a comfort after all.

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