BY Seana Scott
My husband dropped to his knees on our living room carpet and cried out, “Why, Andy? Why?” His brother ended his life after battling depression, and the grief struck with crippling weight. My husband stayed on the floor, his head swaying back and forth from the ground to the ceiling—and wailed.
I imagine this kind of debilitating grief as Mary Magdalene cried at the tomb, dropping to her knees, sobbing, “Where? Where?” She came to visit the remains of the miracle-worker who delivered her from seven demons (Luke 8:1–3). All she found was the stone rolled away, His body missing (John 20:1–3). The religious leaders killed the good Teacher and now someone stole His body from the tomb (John 19:1–42)?
Grief sometimes veils what’s right in front of us. When my mom died, I missed simple details like putting the milk in the fridge instead of the cupboard—and big details like paying rent. So, I cannot judge Mary Magdalene for jumping to conclusions when she saw the opened grave (John 20:1), looked into the tomb (v.11), talked with the angels (v.13), even when she asked Jesus for the body, mistaking him for the gardener (v.15). Maybe the veil of grief blinded her from recognizing the power of the gospel right in front of her eyes.
But her heart sought the Lord. She stayed and wept. She walked closer and looked. And Jesus met her right there.
I relate to Mary Magdalene. I find myself on my knees these days, grieving painful and uncertain challenges raising a rebellious child. I cry private tears, seeking the Lord. I know there are answers—probably right in front of me—but all I can see sometimes is empty space.
Jesus saw Mary behind her veil of grief. He spoke Mary’s name, and immediately her shroud of blindness lifted. She beheld the Holy One who would not undergo decay (Acts 2:24–32) and burst into exuberant joy, “Rabboni!” (John 20:16).
She wanted to stay with Him, but He told her to proclaim His resurrection and soon ascension, so she went to the disciples and announced, “I have seen the Lord!” (v.18). Then the Lord from Daniel’s vision (Daniel 10:5–6) appeared to them face-to-face (John 20:19–23). Even Doubting Thomas believed after he saw and touched Jesus for himself (vv.24–29).
Seeing the Lord changed everything for Mary, for the disciples. But sometimes we have a hard time believing without seeing. Life cripples us with all kinds of grief—and we weep as with veiled faces.
But God sees us behind our veils of grief like He saw Mary. He whispers to us through the Word (v.31) and calls us to faith (v.29). We are not alone. He is “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23, John 14:15–31).