My three-year-old daughter’s favorite activity during our daily commute is “I Spy.” During the guessing game, the “spy” chooses an object within sight, and the other person has to guess what the object is, with only the color as a clue.
Over the last few months, “I spy…something green” has led to some interesting conversations between us. As I’m writing, it’s winter, and there isn’t much green to be seen, but my daughter’s response is always the same. “Mommy, the trees are green, and the grass is green!” she exclaims, even when they look brown and barren or are buried in snow.
I don’t correct her. Though my perspective may be more “accurate”, her perspective is more aligned with the truth. I see the trees and grass as they are right now, but she sees them as they have been, and as they will be again very soon.
We think of winter as the season in which everything dies and is buried. In truth, it is the season of transition and transformation beneath the surface. It is the part of life’s cycle when nature rests and recovers in preparation to begin and bloom again.
If we’re not careful, we can allow our own winters – seasons of suffering, sadness, stress, or loneliness – to cause us to doubt the love of God. I know what it’s like to feel like God has forgotten about me, or worse yet, that he never cared. Burial is often marked by darkness, by silence, and by isolation. Those seasons are hard, but His strength is made perfect when we are weak and tired. It is in our winters, when hope seems buried, that we exercise faith beyond what we can see, experience peace that surpasses understanding, and gain the deepest understanding of His unfailing love.
Scripture tells us that love compelled God to send Jesus from the heavens to Earth to give us access to eternal life (John 3:16). And scripture confirms that in death and burial, Jesus loved to the end (John 13:1). Nothing separates us from that love.
As Christ’s body was removed from the cross, a group of his female disciples stood watch at a distance. Joseph of Arimathea requested the body and made sure it was laid in a tomb. Nicodemus brought white linens and myrrh, and Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene brought other spices to anoint the body for the grave. Jesus’ followers loved him enough to remain with him in burial. They were grieving in the moment, but they forgot that Jesus had no intention of remaining in that tomb! His burial was necessary, not just to fulfill scripture, but to model transformation and manifest the transition into what the kingdom would become.
The commentator Matthew Henry once wrote, “In the garden of Eden death and the grave first received their power, and now in a garden they are conquered, disarmed, and triumphed over. In a garden Christ began his passion, and from a garden he would rise, and begin his exaltation.” Love brought Him out of that grave, and it does the same for us. Hallelujah!
It is healthy to pause and be present in our grief, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Like Mary Magdalene, we can commit to staying close to Christ, serving His body even in our suffering and our sadness. As we live in the truth of His love even unto death, we position ourselves to witness miracles, and we are emboldened through the Spirit to run and tell others so they can witness it too.
Spring out of winter.
Life out of death.
Purpose from pain.
Glory from our grief.
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
I spy…new beginnings. Your season is changing, and your journey has only just begun.
Isaiah 40: 1-11, 28-31
Against a backdrop of exile, darkness, and suffering, this passage promises comfort and strength to those who hope in God. Spend a few moments in nature today. Breathe deeply and use all your senses (sight, smell, hearing, touch) to meditate on how nature reveals God’s glory and his faithfulness to you.
Ezekiel 37: 1-14
In this passage, the prophet is called to a burial ground, to call forth life to dry bones. Are there any areas of your life that seem barren, dead, or impossible? Ask God in prayer to show you where he wants to breathe and birth new life again.
John 20: 1-18
Mary Magdalene was so committed to grief and so confused by the body being taken that she didn’t even recognize Jesus when he appeared to her. Is there anything keeping you from recognizing Christ in your current situation? In what ways is He showing up and calling out to you, or sending you to others?
Romans 6: 3-5
The ancient Greek word for “baptized” in this passage means “immersed” or “covered over”. As believers, scripture speaks of being baptized in water, in the Spirit, and in suffering. What does it mean to you to be buried, and resurrected, with Christ?
Romans 8: 18-39
What truths do this passage include about God’s love and faithfulness? How do these truths increase your confidence and hope for the future? What does it mean that scripture refers to you as “more than [a conqueror]”?
James 1: 2-4, 12
Is it possible to consider joy as you face trials, and to look forward to transformation as you are tested? Today, spend time in prayer for patience and perseverance through transition, and for God to be glorified in your life and the lives of your loved ones.
“In the garden of Eden death and the grave first received their power, and now in a garden they are conquered, disarmed, and triumphed over. In a garden Christ began his passion, and from a garden he would rise, and begin his exaltation.” – Matthew Henry