Sometimes I feel empty.
I have a great life. A beautiful wife, 4 healthy daughters, a job as a pastor at a thriving church in my hometown. In many ways, all of my dreams have come true. But even when things are going well, the fact remains that I live in a broken world. I deal with the same stuff you do.
- People disappoint or hurt me.
- Heck, I disappoint me.
- I pray, and wait for God to answer. But it seems to take Him a looooong time to answer.
- I could add a dozen more things to the list. You could too.
I lose sight of Jesus from time to time. And when I can’t seem to find Him, when He’s gone from my sight, I find it difficult to maintain the hope and joy that I once had. Love wanes. Life becomes a chore. I am drained.
I know you feel empty sometimes too.
The everyday ebb and flow of concerns, worries and problems has a way of sucking the life out of even the most optimistic believer. We’re not the first ones to doubt, to wonder if God will really come through, to feel empty.
Can you imagine how empty Jesus’ disciples felt in the hours and days between His death and His resurrection?
The bright hope Jesus birthed in resurrection was preceded by His death on a cross. It’s easy for us to forget, but Jesus’ disciples didn’t know He was going to rise. Yes, He told them. But they didn’t pay attention. Or they forgot. When He was arrested, they scattered. They betrayed Him. The One they had followed for three years was left alone when He needed His friends the most. The disciples failed in faith and friendship. Jesus was dragged away as they ran. He was crucified for all to see. And now He was dead. But fear and failure were not the end of the story.
This is how it played out in John chapter 20:
20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
This was empty, not hopeful. The assumption Mary made was that robbers had stolen the body of their teacher. This was a blow. Insult and disgrace were added to this great injury.
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.
What could this mean? The tomb is empty. Jesus is not there. Could His Words be echoing in their ears? Could it really be? Was he really the Lord?
8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Empty is not the end.
Empty is the beginning.
Empty makes room for resurrection.
If empty is where you are, maybe you’re on the way to something new.