By Allen White
When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief. Matthew 17:22-23
Bad news is hard to take in. Sometimes it takes more than one exposure for things to sink in. We go from outrage to grief in a process.
Several years ago, I heard Gary Haugen from the International Justice Mission talk about human trafficking and modern day slavery. It was too much to take in. I felt disturbed and sick. I didn’t know what to do. It was too much to think about.
A couple of years later, I heard Christine Caine from the A21 Campaign talk about their work with girls who were basically kidnapped and prostituted throughout the world. They were giving hope and help to girls imprisoned by powerful and evil people.
Then, things became a little more personal. I serve on the board of Water of Life. Roland Bergergon, our founder and director, came across thousands of child slaves working in quarries in India. These were no longer nameless, faceless kids out there somewhere. I saw the pictures. I heard names like Lakshmi, who was a slave in the quarry, then eventually turned into a sex slave. Thanks to Roland, Water of Life and our ministry partner, Praveen, Lakshmi is free.
The disciples had several exposures to Jesus’ mission. Whether they initially misunderstood it or were unwilling to accept it, overall, Jesus’ future was too much for them to take in. The Son of God would be falsely accused, persecuted, humiliated, tortured, and crucified – how could this be?
Peter’s initial reaction was outrage. This would never happen to his friend and Savior! But, if it didn’t happen, Jesus couldn’t save Peter.
Matthew and Luke record the same sequence of events: Peter’s proclamation (“You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”), Jesus’ declaration about His suffering and death, the Transfiguration, and then this reiteration of Jesus’ mission.
The first time Jesus told the disciples about God’s plan, His words were met with their outrage. This time, Jesus’ words had sunk in a little bit. They were no longer outraged. Now, they were grieved.
What is hard for you to hear? Bad news about a health condition or a relationship is hard to accept. Sometimes when we first hear the news, we don’t want to talk about it. That would require admitting that it’s true.
When we see pictures of starving children on TV, we tend to change the channel. When we hear about needs in our community, sometimes we tune them out. Some of us don’t even watch the local news because it’s too much reality to deal with.
What are you struggling to deal with? What has you outraged or grief stricken these days? God has a plan for you. God is not freaking out because things haven’t turned out the way you thought they would. He knows the plan, and He loves you.
Trust is often a process. When you think you’ve reached the bottom floor, often you discover buttons marked B1, B2, B3…. Whether you feel like you’re up in the penthouse or down in the dungeon, God is with you there and on every floor in-between.
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