He held the slight form with uncharacteristic gentleness, his eyes locked on her tiny face. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected from this kid. But he still caught me by surprise when he said, “I don’t mean to insult you, but why do we have to wait for her to be beautiful? Tikva (his other sister) wasn’t beautiful when she was born, but she grew and now she is. Why do we have to wait for so many things to become beautiful?”
I asked him to list other examples. I thought about all the times we wait for something to be beautiful. Days. Weeks. Months. Some of us wait a lifetime. We give helpless newborns names that mean “courageous warrior” or “noble lady” because we believe they will assume their full potential. The first thing everyone says when they see an infant, regardless of how they look, is ” (S)he is so beautiful!”
We have faith in the promise of a newborn because we’ve seen the transformation so many times. But how long would you wait for a dead body to become beautiful?
This morning, I thought about the body, and the tomb. Three days may not seem like a long time to wait for anything, but seeing promise in death goes against everything we’re taught. Jesus’ friends had all memorized the promises in the Torah, and some of them had even seen him raise people from the dead. But when confronted with a dead body, would that be enough? How much hope could they have?
Even after his closest friends ran, a man who barely knew Jesus asked for permission to take his body. It’s easy to identify with someone vibrantly, abundantly alive. But who wants to be friends with a dead guy? This man was willing to identify with Jesus in death. It cost him more than the expense of the tomb, more than the damage to his reputation. He willingly missed some of the most joyous celebrations of the year because touching a corpse made him unclean and ineligible to participate.
When everyone else ran, he said, “Give me the body”. He believed in a promise that was unstoppable. Unbreakable, even in death.
God’s promises come true with or without our cooperation. My daughter will become beautiful whether I believe it or not. Jesus’ corpse became radiant, pulsing with life after three days and three nights. He rose from the dead apart from the faith of his closest friends. But what about that guy who believed even when everyone else gave up? And what about you?
You may be facing a seemingly hopeless situation. God’s promises will come true no matter what, but you have an opportunity. It’s easy to wait for beauty when your experience and common sense back you up. But Jesus said, “… blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” That blessing is for you.
Think of an area of your life that’s everything you hoped it would be. How long did you wait for it to become beautiful? If you think of an area where even hope seems impossible, how much beauty are you willing to hope for?