Day 219: August 7, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Matthew 28:1
After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb.

Mark 16:1
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so they could go and anoint Him.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to view the tomb.
—Matthew 28:1

The Crossroads of Hope and Despair
by Sally Cressman, Member of Brentwood Baptist Campus

I received the dreaded phone call from my mom saying my dad had died earlier that morning on January 7, 2000. After staying up all night praying for his healing, I had to accept the fact that God had decided to heal his prostate cancer but not his congestive heart problems.

When my flight arrived home to Wisconsin the next day, my mom, sisters, and I sat down at the kitchen table to plan the funeral. Well into our discussions, my oldest sister surprised me by asking if I’d speak at my dad’s funeral.

Just a month earlier, I’d written a Christmas letter honoring my dad and they wanted me to read it. I told my family, “No.” I didn’t think I had the courage to speak in front of all those people. But more importantly, I didn’t know the condition of my dad’s soul.

I’d shared the gospel with him many years earlier, but he responded by saying he was better than most people and that should earn him a spot in heaven. Grace and faith weren’t a factor for him (Ephesians 2:8-9).

So I stood at the crossroads of hope and despair—hope that I’d see my dad again, but despair that he hadn’t accepted Jesus into his life. I so wanted to stand up in front of those people and tell them my dad was with Jesus and they could be also.

So what got Mary Magdalene and the others up at the crack of dawn that morning—the first day of the week just three days since Jesus death?

Was it hope that maybe Jesus was alive some how? Hadn’t He said He’d rise in three days (Mark 8:31, 10:34)? Or was it despair, where all the promises spoken of Jesus were suddenly shards of pottery scattered in the particles of dirt only to be crushed by an unaware passerby?

Did they think death was the final answer? After all, they’d brought burial spices to the tomb. So many questions not yet answered.

That night, after the discussion with my family, I went to bed and had a talk with God. I told him I couldn’t speak at my dad’s funeral unless I knew of his eternal condition. In that moment, a peace flooded my soul and I heard a whisper, “Your dad is with me. Read your letter, Sally. I’m with you.”

I bawled. I knew I’d see my dad again, and I’d have to speak at the funeral. Two days later, I read the Christmas letter about my dad and shared the victory we have over death through Jesus to an overflowing congregation with my husband standing next to me holding a box of tissues!

I got my answer, but Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome didn’t have theirs—yet. It was coming, and oh, what joy it would bring.

Reflection Questions

  1. Are you at a crossroads of hope and despair? How can knowing the outcome of these passages affect your situation?
  2. Look up Psalm 30:5. If your days have become nights, spend some time talking and listening to God. Write down what you hear.
  3. Mary Magdalene and the others weren’t alone in their sorrow. Do you have others to help you through your dark nights? If not, whom could you ask to walk with you through this time?

About the Author

Sally Cressman

Since 2004, Sally and her family have been members of Brentwood Baptist. On Sunday mornings, you’ll find her in the Children’s Ministry area teaching kindergartners. She’s married to Drew and they have three children: Kendall, Derek, and Hannah. Her hobbies include biking on the trails in Crockett Park, reading fiction and non-fiction, and writing. Some day, she’d like to attend a Packers game at Lambeau Field in December or January.