Can you think of a time when you hoped and wished for something good to happen? You prayed, hoping that you would receive—but sadly, that specific thing you longed for didn’t come to be. How did you feel?

We all have times like these. But I have discovered by experience and years of walking with Jesus that when I am willing to wait and trust Him for the outcome, it may not be the good thing that I had wanted but the Lord’s plan promised something far better.

Having just celebrated Easter, Mary Magdalene’s experience at the tomb is still fresh in my mind as a tender lesson in faith for us all, particularly in times of confusion and disappointment.

Think how much Mary loved Jesus—and no wonder when you consider what her life was before! Her first encounter with the Lord was when He cast out seven demons from her. We have no idea the depth of her brokenness. She was probably a physical, mental and emotional wreck, and Jesus healed her completely.  As a result, she followed and served Jesus with all her heart.

But think what it must have been like for her to be set free of all the horror that had been her life, only to be forced to watch helplessly while He suffered unspeakable cruelty. It was all so wrong! Here was the Lord—who had delivered her life and given it back to her—dying on a cross.

When Jesus cried out, “It is finished” Mary and all those who stood at the foot of that cross probably thought the same thing. It’s over—this is how it ends.

Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? We can look back and see this story with crystal clarity because we know how it turned out. But our own present circumstance is not always so clear to us. We share the same human frailties and experience fears and doubts too.

Mary and her friends went to the tomb early that Sunday morning to anoint Jesus’ body. All she wanted was one final encounter, even if it was just to touch Him one last time and anoint His body in a final act of devotion.

I don’t know if you’ve ever lost a loved one, but I understand Mary’s deep longing just to touch and hold someone you love so deeply for one last time.  My son Christopher would have just turned 48 on April 1st. He was only 33 when he went to heaven on July 24, 2008 and I have had 15 years of that longing to hold him again.

When Mary came to the tomb and saw that His body was gone, it was more than she could bear. Reeling with grief, she stayed there weeping in desperation.

She was missing Jesus—and I don’t just mean she was wishing He was still alive as before. She was missing all the signs pointing to His resurrected, living presence right there with her!


Woman, why are you weeping?


That’s a good question to ask whenever we are troubled. Is it anguish over a shattered relationship? A lost dream? It may be something that’s been taken from us, or not within our grasp. A longing we can’t fill, a problem we can’t resolve. Like Mary, we can become so distraught that we blow right past all the signs that Jesus is with us.

In Matthew’s gospel, the angel tells her plainly, “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus…He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as He said would happen” (Matthew 28:5-6 NLT).

So many situations that we encounter in life can cause alarm and cloud our perception. Did you know there are more than 365 “fear nots” in the Bible? And every single “fear not” is a fear not for us.


Woman, who are you looking for?


At first, Mary didn’t recognize it was Jesus Himself asking that question. Mary knew Jesus, and she loved Him. It’s not that she didn’t believe, but in this extreme situation the sorrow and confusion she was feeling could only be quieted when she heard Jesus speak her name.

Mary’s experience has touched my heart, in the throes of grief and so many other times when I’m in the midst of a fiercely difficult storm. I have felt like the disciples on the Sea of Galilee and I don’t recognize that Jesus is walking on the waves, coming to rescue me.

The Bible teaches us that faith is like a windshield. It’s not something we’re supposed to be looking at—it’s something we’re supposed to be looking through. You can’t focus on all the dust and grimy things sticking to your windshield. If you do, you’ll crash! You have to look through that windshield, clouded as it may be at times, and keep your eyes looking straight ahead.

Let me ask you, how clean and how pure does a windshield of faith need to be?  Just enough to see the road. There are times when I have to say—and some of you have to say—Lord, my faith is not adequate for this trial. I’m anxious, I’m worried, I’m troubled. When I’m staring at the immediate circumstances, I can’t see with eyes of faith.

Listen, I’m not called to put faith in my faith, and neither are you. We are told to focus on the object of our faith, our Risen Lord and Savior.

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

It is precisely in that moment, when I can’t see a way out or a fix for my problem that I must cry out, “Help Lord! I believe…help my unbelief.”


Let me share another lesson that years of walking with Jesus has taught me. See what Mary did. She stayed. She hung in there. Not like the disciples who left the tomb, went away and locked the doors, uncertain of what might happen next.

Mary stayed near the tomb. And as she lingered, even in her confusion, Jesus showed up. She had no idea that she was experiencing the greatest sign of God’s love, power, and eternally good plan—in that moment, she was reading it as a disaster.

Some of us have been running around frantic, like a woman in panic. Like Mary, running in circles saying, “I don’t know where He is, I don’t know where He is!”  Can I tell you, don’t worry about that. He knows where you are.


Be still.


God is right here with you. Scripture is telling you the truth. The trustworthy testimony of God’s Word is reliable, speaking into your situation. Every fear-not promise is for you.

Linger and listen for Jesus’ voice. And say, like Mary, “my Teacher, my Lord.”

Can you see Him there, through the windshield of faith?

Keep your eyes on Jesus.