Day Two of Resurrection Joy: What to do with the Grief?

Week Two: What to do with the Grief?

“He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.” Matt. 28:6

The women saw the stone rolled away but they had to see that He was not there. The angel invited them to come in and see the linen cloths that remained where the body of the Lord had been laid.

They came expecting to see the stone blocking the entrance to the tomb. They came expecting to give space to their grief through their custom of anointing the dead body with fragrant perfumes. Nothing was as they expected. What should they do with their grief, with the perfume?

I know we might think seeing an angel, hearing such a message that Christ had risen would have been more than enough for these women to be instantly ready to part with their grief, but I wonder. They had just been through the traumatic shock of seeing the cruel crucifixion of their Lord. They would have barely begun to process it all.

Sometimes grief visits us in deep and troubling ways. We hear the call to enter into the reality of the resurrection, to this ongoing celebration of the resurrection. But what do we do with our grief?

I imagine myself coming as one of these women, with the grief, the perfume, and a heavy heart of sorrow. The angel bids me come and see where the One I love was laid but isn’t there anymore. The angel is quiet as I gather the linen cloths stained with His blood. By His stripes we are healed. I bunch up the linen on my chest, close my eyes, and feel the longing for Jesus to be HERE. I tenderly lay the empty cloths on the stone slab. Each strip of linen names part of my grief. The angel watches me honour my sorrow as I sprinkle the nard and myrrh on top. His Name is as ointment poured forth. The perfume seeps through the linen cloths and the scent wafts up. The angel sits silent, a witness to the sacred union of sorrow and joy.

I think that maybe they are not that far apart, this sorrow and joy. Maybe they co-exist more than I have realized. He suffered death and was buried, and rose again on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures.

Rolling the strips of mingled blood and perfume up one by one, I place them in the angel’s hands. He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Jesus is risen. I call my heart to see the empty place and to welcome the joy. Tears of sorrow fall and stain the stone first, followed by tears of joy. I cannot tell where the sorrow ends and the joy begins.

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