Before we begin! May I ask you for your prayers? I’ve been at the doctor’s office way too much as of late, so any prayers would be appreciated. Also, if I can offer up any of this up for a prayer intention of yours, let me know! You can either comment or email me and I will pray for you.
Anyway! Things have been tough as of late. There have been lots of lab tests and waiting for results. And, honestly, sometimes the waiting is the worst part because the unknown is terrifying.
Throughout this whole process of agony and waiting and very real fear, there is hope. Hope that maybe — just maybe! — there will be a miracle.
And I can’t help but reflect on the Easter story more because of this whole experience…
For the last couple of blogs, we’ve been going through the immediate (and very chaotic!) story that happened right after the Resurrection. The women go to the tomb… only to discover that there is an angel there! Then they go back and tell the disciples, only to be met with an unenthusiastic response by the disciples who believe that the women are speaking nonsense.
They believed Jesus to be dead. Dead! There was no possible way that He could be alive. Saint John and the Virgin Mary saw Jesus Christ die close up. The disciples probably looked on from a distance. Everybody knew Jesus Christ was dead. Dead! Every piece of evidence stated this as an absolute fact.
And yet, Saint Peter and Saint John ran to the tomb anyway… just to make sure.
The gospel describes the scene as such:
3 So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
Here’s an artwork of the scene:
The scene depicts Saints Peter and John running toward the tomb. It is dawn and the light is only peep out. The clouds are still purple and the sky is gold. In the landscape, you can see wild fields, where the disciples probably ran through so as to avoid the urban Jerusalem, lest they got caught. Saint John is clean shaven and wearing white while Saint Peter sports a big bushy beard. Saint John looks ahead, his hands clasped in prayer while his face is drawn in a sort of grimace, whereas Saint Peter’s eyes are wide open and an incredulous look is on his face.
They had no reason to expect that they would find a miracle. None at all. In fact, they had every reason to expect that they will find nothing and that the women are just reacting hysterically to the stress of the last couple of days. There is no reason to hope.
And yet they hope anyway.
They hoped for a miracle.
And don’t we do the same thing? When we pray to God for His intercession — even when the odds look extremely grim — don’t we hope in a miracle too? Yes, we may try to temper our expectations. Yes, we may try to prepare ourselves for the worst, because the worst can sometimes be the most likely outcome and we need to steel ourselves so that, if things do get bad, we can be more emotionally prepared to deal with the bad outcomes.
Besides, sometimes God does not answer what we are praying for. That’s why the prayer in the Agony of the Garden, is such a terrifying prayer: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” To surrender our lives to God can be a terrifying leap of faith. And sometimes to surrender to God’s will means that we can suffer incredibly. After all, did not Jesus pray that prayer before He was crucified?
And yet… at the same time, there is a little voice in our heads:
Maybe there is a reason to hope.
Maybe God will provide a miracle.
And you can see in this painting the body language of these two disciples. Saint John is simultaneously praying while his chin seems set and grim. Saint Peter’s face is wide open and incredulous — partly in hope, but also partly in disbelief. He needs to see the evidence, and he needs to see it now.
As they run toward the tomb, how many emotions are going through their heads? What sorts of thoughts are they thinking? Maybe they are struggling with doubt. Maybe they are preparing themselves for the worst.
And yet, they run anyway. Because they need to see. Because they cannot rest until they know for certain whether or not the women are actually right.
Because they hope.
And their hope is well-founded! Later, Saint Peter would describe Jesus Christ as the “living hope” in his first apostolic letter:
May we always find Jesus Christ to be our living hope!
And, in the midst of all our pain, even amidst our doubts, may we always run to Jesus.