Psalms 30:5 – “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning”
We know that darkness comes before the dawn but sometimes the darkness is so deep that we lose sight of the coming light. Have you ever been bound by the blinding darkness, the darkness that debilitates and discourages? This is where we find the disciples after the death of Jesus, they went from triumph to tragedy in one week. Mary had anointing the feet of the One they followed. They had entered Jerusalem in a triumphant procession, the disciples proudly marching with the Messiah, for in their minds it was a parade of power. Christ had cleansed the Temple turning over tables, revealing religion for the con-artist and crook it was. Jesus observed the Passover and Judas made his pact with the priests. In the Garden of Gethsemane the place of pain and prayer they slept through His suffering. Then came the kiss of betrayal, the beatings and the trial, as they tried and tortured Truth. There was the mocking of the mob, the pounding of the nails, the crucifixion of the creator, the ridicule and rejection, the tree and the tomb. Jesus was dead and while the demons danced and the devil delighted, the disciples sank into the deepest depths of despair. Mary, the mother of Jesus mourned. Darkness descended, all nature was numb, and there was sadness and weeping for the world that had killed the Word. It always appears darkest before the dawn, and for the disciples it appeared that their dream had died. They were looking for the long awaited Messiah, Luke 24:13 tells us that they “were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.” They were looking for the conquering king who would replace the Romans and set up His rule, so they could take their place of power. Like the Mother of James and John who came to Jesus in Matthew 20:21 and said “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom” they had such hopes and dreams. But now their dreams had dissipated into the dark, as their leader lay dead in the tomb. Their dreams were replaced by disappointment, depression, despondency and despair. Like the disciples sometimes we experience the darkness that comes with the death of a dream. We watch and weep as life slams into and shatters the dreams we held so dear. Today you may find yourself like the disciples, dejected and dismayed by dreams that have been destroyed. To the disciples it appeared that truth had been trumped by the tomb. A great stone had been rolled across the entrance to the tomb, a stone of separation between the living and the dead. To them death looked like defeat, it appeared like the devil had won. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb in tears, and when the angels ask her in John 20:13 “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” The death of a dream brings the sting of separation and a lingering loneliness, the kind of loneliness that breads despair, where you feel alone even in a crowd. Like Mary many of you have or are experienced the sadness of separation, and the lingering loneliness and agony of alienation. You may be walking through the valley of the shadow of death through the loss of a loved one, the death of a marriage, financial failure or a falling out with a friend, maybe it’s a devastating diagnosis. When we descend into the darkness we often feel like no one understands what we are going through, so we listen to the lie that we need to carry the load alone. In our alienation we become angry, yet we still stay alone in the breeding ground of bitterness. Alienation doesn’t sooth the agony it often just magnifies our misery. The problem is that in the pain we forget His promises; instead of drawing closer we close out Christ. Jesus had given His followers several precious promises concerning His crucifixion and death, promises they had forgotten. He told the disciples that
- He would rise again – Luke 18:31-33 “Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus said, “Listen, we’re going up to Jerusalem, where all the predictions of the prophets concerning the Son of Man will come true. 32 He will be handed over to the Romans, and he will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit upon. 33 They will flog him with a whip and kill him, but on the third day he will rise again.”
- When He would rise again – Matthew 12:38-40 “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
- Death would not defeat Him and would hold no power over Him – John 10:17-18 17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
- He is the Source of Life – John 11:25-26 “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die”
- He would not abandon and leave them alone – John 14:18-19 “18 No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. 19 Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live.”
Many of us say we are following the Savior but are we walking in His provision along the pathway of His promises? What a mess we get in when we walk away from the Word, focusing on our troubles instead of His truth. He promises to never leave you Hebrews 13:5, to meet your needs Philippians 4:19, to comfort and protect John 14:16-17. Today are you focusing on your worry or His Word? Weeping may endure for a night, but Joy comes in the morning. As the darkness gave way to the dawn on that resurrection morning the devil and his demons who thought that they had destroyed the King of kings became the downcast ones. Their dancing was replaced by defeat, their delight dissipated as they understood their total downfall. Many times we get overwhelmed by the weeping and weariness of the night that we forget to focus on the coming light. Often there is a battle before the breakthrough and we have to remember the power of His promises. Being a follower of Christ means coming back to the truth of His teaching. In 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 Paul reminds us of the results if Christ had not risen “if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” Without His promises we would lead pathetic powerless lives. If Christ had remained in the grave we would be stuck in our guilt, and we would have good reason for our tears. But truth trumps our tears, we are not hopeless because the grave could not hold Him. Death was destroyed, sin was silenced, the devil was defeated and our depression was turned to dancing. Night time can seem like an eternity when the enemy appears to be winning the war, but if we wait on the Word what seems like defeat will turn to delight. As Mary and the other women traveled to the tomb in a trail of tears, they were focused on the barrier blocking their way that they couldn’t see the big picture. Sometimes we can’t see the Savior because we are so focused on the stone that seems to separate. Mark 16:2-7 reminds us not to focus on the conditions but on Christ: “Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. 3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. 5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, 6 but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” Why do we center our focus on our circumstances instead of our conquering Christ? Why do we stress over the stones when we have a Savior? To you who have had dreams shattered, and those stuck in the depths of despair remember the enemy has been defeated, the victory has been won. Romans 8:37 reminds us that “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” You see the death of a dream does not mean you have to be held hostage to hopelessness, you maybe moaning right now but the morning is coming.