Optimism vs Faithfulness

1On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and she saw the stone rolled away from the tomb. — John 20:1

What was it that got Mary up early on that Sunday morning? She arrived early, before it was light. In the other gospels we find that there are some other women who go to the tomb as well.

What got them up that early to go to the tomb? What we’d like to think is that the women expected Jesus to be rising from the dead and they wanted to be there when it happened. We’d like to think that they alone believed that Jesus was going to rise from the dead.

But no, what got them there was simple love and faithfulness. Now to us visiting the tomb may not seem like that big of a deal, but there was a reason the disciples ran away and were hiding out. When the leader of a movement had been crucified it was quite possible that some of the followers would be executed as well. Going out to the tomb was an act of courage as well.

The women weren’t optimistic. They weren’t looking for an empty tomb. They were looking for a body. But they were blessed by not finding one, and they have been recorded for posterity as the first folks to be witnesses to the resurrection.

This Sunday begins Holy Week with Palm and Passion Sunday. Palm Sunday is a bit of a high point, but it is a brief high before everything starts to go downhill. Finally, on good Friday, we commemorate the crucifixion. Then we wait for Easter Sunday morning. But unlike the disciples, we know what we’re waiting for.

It’s easy to understand what keeps people going during an event like the triumphal entry. It’s triumphant. Optimism carries you forward. But what will carry us through the intervening time? We don’t have to go through what the disciples went through, but we also have our times of difficulty.

The answer is simple—the same thing that brought the women to the tomb that morning. It’s faithfulness. The disciples got a blessing, but they didn’t get the same thing as the women did that morning, because they weren’t ready to get up early on that Easter morning.  When they lost their optimism, they had nothing to go on.

Optimism is nice. I like optimistic people. But the ones who make it through the dark times are the faithful.

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