After our full IVF failed in March of 2009, I really wasn’t sure what to do next. I thought IVF would be it. We’d be pregnant and that would end our waiting. What I got instead were four embabies I fell completely in love with and a grief I never knew was possible. I’m sure plenty of women feel this, the longing, as I learned to live with missing those babies I had never known. Part me, part Dr, and wholly loved.
What I felt God whispering to me was Wait. I’d felt Him saying that before our canceled IVF and before our full IVF but I’d basically chosen to ignore Him, write it off as silly. No way we’d gone through all the years of trying and the surgery and the tests and the IUI I thought would kill me just to be told to wait longer. That seemed ridiculous.
I was wrong.
No doubt, sometimes the Unexpected we find ourselves in is entirely self-created.
So this time, I listened. I knew He had been telling me our journey would take three full years and that wasn’t until May of 2009. That left me with time to wait.
I had no idea what would come next. Another round of IVF? A natural pregnancy? An adoption? Another nephew? Maybe a niece? But I knew God wanted us to wait.
Everything felt unknown and everything felt possible in that wait.
Our Teachers in the Unknown…
On our Grateful Easter journey, the Unknown is Saturday. Jesus has died and His followers aren’t at all sure what is going to happen, what they should be doing, how they should be feeling.
But the women.
“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.” ~Luke 23:55-56 (NIV)
I simply adore how Jesus allows women to teach us and lead us in so many ways throughout His life on earth. The women at the tomb that day, they carried with them the legacy of Sarah and Leah and Rachel and Deborah and Esther and Jael and Rahab and Ruth. They walked hand in hand with Mary, Martha, Elizabeth, Anna, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James as they went home to do what they had to do and rest.
The shock of the Unexpected faded but then, the space of everything unknown and everything possible all at once leaves us unnerved, raw, dizzy. The world feels very much like it’s spinning off its axis and we are moments away from being flung into space.
We spend hours searching for answers on WebMD only to wander into the Huffington Post and before you know it, we’re in Buzzfeed looking at the best of the pig pet pictures from Tuesday.
And we discover a level of exhaustion we didn’t even know existed when we sat down to find a solution two hours and 18 minutes ago.
Instead, we can learn how to handle the Unknown from the women who loved Jesus.
They Taught Distance…
Luke tells us, after the Centurion professes his belief in Jesus as the Son of God, “all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away.”
They came for the express purpose of watching the sport of crucifying Jesus, the King of the Jews. Once the show was over, they wailed and whined, showing off probably like the Pharisees when they prayed just so people would press the virtual thumbs up button. Then they simply went away.
Not so of the ones who loved Him.
“But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.”
They stood at a bit removed from the center of it all and watched.
That’s our first lesson, Remove ourselves from the thick of the Unknown.
That distance reminds me of Mary, in the stable, listening as shepherds told of angels declaring her newborn son Christ the Lord, she “kept all those things and pondered them in her heart.”
This distance kept them close enough to see what was happening but far enough away to not let the wailing and breast-beating of the spectators interrupt their pondering as events unfolded.
In the middle of the Unknown, we will be surrounded by people who show up just to witness the show. It’s not a show for you, just as nothing about the crucifixion was entertainment for Jesus, but to others, it is. They’re not feeling your pain or your loss or your fear or your dizzy, raw, frazzled emotions in your Unknown. But they are making such a fuss over you and your Unknown.
And sometimes, if we’re not careful, we can start to think we are the center of this entire thing, instead of remembering everything, everywhere is for Jesus.
Get some distance. Watch for where the Lord is working in your Unknown. Ask Him to show you exactly where He is and thank Him that none of this is either for your punishment nor your glory.
They Taught Rest…
Then those women standing at a distance, they moved to stand witness of their beloved Jesus as He lay in the tomb, walked home to do what they had to do, and they rested.
“The women…went home and prepared spices and perfumes….they rested on the Sabbath in obedience…” ~Luke 23:55-56 (NIV)
That’s the second lesson, Go home, do what you have to do, nothing more, and rest.
So often in the Unknown, there is very little we can do to change the situation or circumstances. We can’t google it away, we can’t discover a cure, we can’t manufacture money or resources. Mostly, what we can do are the little things we do in our every day, ordinary, walking-around life.
We can wash a load of clothes. Bake some muffins. Mop the floor. Read a bedtime story. Write in our journal. Nothing exhausting or fancy. Just the common chores we all do in our lives.
And then you rest.
Take a serious nap. Get in your PJ’s. Close the blinds. Turn on your white noise and your fan. Or go to bed early. No alarm. No rushing around. Simple, quiet, obedient rest.
Rest is holy, friends. We’ve forgotten that in our over-scheduled, stressed-out, 24-hour lives but it is. God commanded it. Perhaps we should honor that commandment.
Everything Unknown and Everything Possible…
I suspect as the women watched from a distance, did the chores they had to do and climbed into bed for rest, they pondered just as Mary had done 33 years earlier. Mary thought about all she had witnessed when Jesus entered this world and these women who loved Jesus likely did the same as they watched Him leave this world, hanging on His cross.
The truth is neither Mary at Jesus’s birth nor the women who loved Him at His death had any understanding of what was to come. They couldn’t possibly know.
But that’s why we can wait well in our Unknown.
Because what we can never know or understand, Jesus already fully knows and fully understands.
In Jesus, Everything is Unknown and Everything is Possible.
And in that truth, we can wait in our Unknown with hope and joy and gratitude.
It’s not too late to join us on our Grateful Easter journey! Download your A Grateful Easter Study Guide and spend some time this week with Jesus talking about your Uneasiness, Unexpecteds, and Unknowns.