Challenge Central: a CBC devotional
By: Pastor Jeremy Heikkinen
So, what does this sound like to verbalize a downcast heart in an honest conversation that leads to discovering hope found in Jesus? Well, the other day, someone walked into my office. You could tell something was bothering him by how he walked in, put his stuff down, and let out a large breath. He was ready to talk; all he needed was permission to start. Mary Magdalene was at the same spot according to the passage we looked at on Sunday (John 20:11-18). Jesus cared enough about Mary to ask her, “Why are you weeping?” In essence, Jesus is asking her how her heart is responding to her circumstances. Psalm 43:5 says something similar. The Psalmist asks,
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
In both cases, there is an invitation or permission, to be honest about the circumstances of life that are weighing heavy on the heart. In Mary’s case, it took a few times to ask the same question before she was ready to dialogue. Sometimes it is easier to feel a downcast heart than express one. It is normal to hurt.
This man went on to dialogue about some of the things that had been going on in his life. It was not “one big” thing that had him discouraged but rather many minor disappointments and discouragement along the way. Like many others: finances were tight, kids had been sick, sleep was hard to come by, exercise was lacking, life was busy, work and relationships did not always go the way he wanted, etc. This was not the first time he had experienced this in his life, yet this was driving him to look for energy and some feeling of happiness from the empty tombs of eating too much, watching too many, mindlessly scrolling, and dialoguing too little. And yet, his heart was still downcast. This had been going on for months. This is where Jesus’ second question is so penetrating in John 20:15, “Whom are you seeking.” Jesus asks Mary to articulate what she is placing her hope in. Like Mary, this man had started to search for a dead saviour in a dark tomb. The circumstances of both had them looking to fulfill something that felt unfulfilled by Jesus, and it only compounded the downcast heart.
This is where discovery comes in. Jesus allows Mary to dialogue about why she is weeping and whom she is seeking. But, He does not leave it there. He calls her out of her present way of thinking, her present location of seeking, to turn around and look at Jesus. This was exactly what this man needed. As he talked it out in the office, he went on to start a dialogue with a couple of friends around him, friends that he knew would help turn him to Jesus. Psalm 43:5 continues,
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.
It is possible to be cast down and in turmoil and still find hope in God.
– Where are you seeking to find hope today (a dark empty tomb or a living Saviour)?
– How has your heart been responding to your circumstances lately?
– Who can you start/continue a dialogue with this week?
By the way, in case you were trying to figure out who this man is, “this man” is me. I am learning and growing to become more like Jesus as I verbalize my downcast heart in honest dialogue that leads to discovering hope in Jesus. Will you join me?