Lenten Reflections: Fasting Escapism, Being Present to Pain

Once the stone was rolled in front of the tomb there was no more denying the fact that whatever the disciples thought Jesus was going to do was not at all what He did.

None of them thought the story was going to end like this and yet here they were having buried their Master and their dreams.

Most of us can relate to a time when we thought our dreams were God’s dreams and we were on the path to victory only to round the next bend and head straight to defeat-or worse.

The eternal weight of the space between Jesus’ death and resurrection will only be known on the other side of this life, for the scriptural references are filled with both majesty and mystery. Though Jesus’ full assignment in those days is beyond comprehension, the disciples’ disillusionment is not.

Alicia Britt Chole

It can be tempting to try to distract our hearts from the pain of failure, dashed dreams, death, rejection or other hard-to-process feelings.

But that’s not how to heal.

If we pay close attention to what the disciples did in the wake of Jesus’ death, we see modeled a better way:

  • They gave themselves permission to bury the dream. It’s important to acknowledge and commemorate loss. That’s one of the reasons we have societal rituals surrounding death. It’s not about hopelessness, it’s about accepting reality. A heart needs to mark these moments.
  • They returned home to rest. “Rest is essential-a need, not a luxury” (Chole, 204). So often we seek frantic activity when faced with loss. We move our bodies in hopes it will distract our minds. But it never works. We may be able to push off the pain for a time yet it won’t be ignored forever. It’s so much better to give our bodies and souls the rest they need so we can process pain from a place of relative strength rather than exhaustion.
  • They didn’t isolate themselves. The disciples remained in community with one another. They intentionally maintained relationships. It is so easy to look for the nearest corner where we can lick our individual wounds. But telling, retelling and sharing our sorrow creates space for mutual healing.

Most of us will not see the resurrection of our dreams within three days. In fact, some of our dreams are sown for future generations to reap. Even then, obedience is never a waste; it is an investment in a future we cannot see. When we dream with God, our dreams-even in burial-are not lost; they are planted. God never forgets the ‘kernel of wheat [that] falls to the ground and dies’ (John 12:24).

What grows from that painful planting is God’s business. But sowing in faith is ours and, like the early disciples, our faithfulness is never sown in vain.

Alicia Britt Chole

When Dominic ran ahead to Heaven, part of me wanted to run away too. There were moments when I thought if I could just get started and keep going I’d reach someplace where the pain couldn’t reach me.

But that simply isn’t true.

I had to face the fact my son wasn’t coming home. I had to face the reality that I’d live the rest of my life in expectant hope, waiting for the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to redeem and restore.

Like that kernel of wheat, I had to choose to plant my dreams in the soil of God’s faithful love, extravagant grace and abundant mercy, trusting Him to make them grow.

Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

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