We sat huddled behind a closed door, like the disciples behind closed doors on Holy Saturday. It was not beyond me that as we sat in this room, it was the third day of the Easter Season. Less than 48 hours ago I was at Easter Sunday mass celebrating the joy of the Resurrection. I felt anything but joyful as we waited for the doctor to enter the room to tell us what my grandfather’s MRI showed. Anxiety and worry filled me that it was taking this long.
As I sat with my grandfather, grandmother, and mother, I wondered how the disciples passed the time. Did they chit-chat and share stories of the past, like we did, laughing at old times and recalling fond memories? Did they roll through dozens of scenarios and play the “what if” game as they sat and waited, not understanding what was going on? Did they feel a sense of comfort being in each other’s presence, like I do when I am with my grandparents, somehow knowing we would get through whatever is coming together, but fearful of what was coming?
When the doctor came in and delivered the news that there were new spots of tumor growth, my heart dropped, and a heaviness set in. How? How after two surgeries, weeks of radiation, and two different types of chemo treatments, was this thing still growing? As we walked out of the doctor office together to our cars, we were in disbelief, confused, and wondering – what is next? What’s the plan?
Stuck in Holy Saturday:
We were in the Easter season, yet as I drove home, I told God – it doesn’t feel like Easter. As I kept praying, my mind turned to the number of people around me who are not living Easter season. I recalled people still fighting to recover from the flood in August, parents walking with a child who has cancer, married people struggling to keep their marriages on solid ground, families struggling to make ends meet financially, others dealing with health issues, grief, tragedy, struggle, or the unknown. I yearned to feel like the apostles I was reading about daily in the readings, but instead I felt like the apostles huddling in the locked room after Jesus’ death. The apostles after Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension were full of hope and enthusiasm that they were drawing people to God by the thousands.
The Apostles’ hope was not superficial or naïve. They had reason to hope because they saw first hand the Resurrection. They saw Jesus overcome death. They had a tangible sign before them of God’s ability to overcome anything.
What about us, though? How do we make hope real in our lives today without seeing Jesus raised from the dead? It’s the question I pondered for the last two weeks and the question that we will explore in the coming weeks of this series, Making Hope Real. How do I hold onto hope in light of the news we received last week? How can all of us make hope real, no matter what season of life we are in?
It’s ok to not be ok.
From my experience, it starts with naming the reality of what we are facing in our lives, what others are facing around us, and what our world is facing together. Scripture does not tell us that hope involves being ignorant to what is happening in the world around us. Hope doesn’t invite us to ignore what’s going on around us and stick our heads in the sand like an ostrich. Hope invites us to see it all, like God does, and not get locked into the darkness. Jesus entered all that we face as humans and embraced all our brokenness and all of our goodness.
As I close this week, I want to offer you the wisdom a dear friend offered me when I heard the news of my grandfather— “It’s ok to not be ok.” Those words provided comfort to me as I let myself hold the news we had heard. It allowed me to not be naïve or ignorant about what was going on, but let me face the reality of what we were truly facing and bring it before God and invite the Risen Christ into this area of my life. I invite you to do the same this week.
Weekly Reflection Questions:
As we begin this next series, Making Hope Real, I invite you to reflect on these questions:
- Where in my own life am I struggling to feel hopeful? Where do I need the Risen Christ?
- Who do I notice that is longing for the message of hope?
- What’s going on in the world around you that needs to be noticed and acknowledged?
Online Busy Person’s Retreat:
If you are looking for someone to walk with you for a few days and help you grow deeper in your relationship with God or become more aware of God with you in your day-to-day life, I invite you to join me on May 15-18th for the first Online Busy Person’s Retreat. This retreat consists of four hour-long one-on-one spiritual direction sessions with me. At the end of each spiritual direction session, I will offer you suggested scriptures or other materials for prayer based on what you shared in your time.
You can make the retreat from right where you are and from the comfort of your home or office. For more details and to register visit the Online Busy Person’s Retreat page.
This has so hit home as I found out on 24/4/17 my younger sister aged 53 has cancer of the spine….reoccurring from breast cancer she had 16yrs ago. Such a shock, but finding the peace of God and looking to the hope of his promises. The sorrows and joys of Jesus are just as real for us as we trust him completely, regardless of our situation.
Heather, know of my prayers for you sister and for you. The peace of God and God’s presence are abundant in the middle of this journey, and I pray they are for your family also.