By Kathleen Buehler
I learned (or revisited) a bit of information recently that caught me by surprise. I was helping my daughter study for a science test, when I discovered this: Some members of the animal kingdom –adult sponges, to be exact—stay attached to one spot throughout their lives.
Think of it: stuck in one spot for life. It sounds boring and confining. The ability to move, to change, gives so many more possibilities for excitement and freedom. On the other hand, there’s something comforting, safe, and sure about sameness, while change can bring anxiety, discomfort, and even pain.
We all deal in many areas of our lives with this tension between moving and staying where we are. Many of us resist change, we struggle with it, and though we know that change is part of life and growth, we are still surprised by it.
Consider the disciples. One would think that during those three years with Jesus the disciples would have become experts in dealing with change. Those days walked with Jesus must have been filled with the unexpected: healings among the sick, handicapped, and demon-possessed; miracles defying death and physical laws; startling teachings told in parables; verbal sword plays with the religious leaders.
Jesus’ death and resurrection should not have caught his disciples unexpectedly. His leaving them was one change Jesus had told them about ahead of time—and on more than one occasion. He told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” (Matt 20:17–19 NIV).
Not only had Jesus spelled it out to them, he had explained, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7 NIV).
When the time came, however, the disciples were overwhelmed by Jesus’ death. Their leader gone, they huddled together defeated behind locked doors. I’m sure they couldn’t understand how this was for their good. How could the death of the greatest teacher and best friend they had ever known be for their good? They certainly didn’t understand about the resurrection of the promised Counselor.
The disciples couldn’t see beyond the pain of the change—until they saw Jesus again, until they saw the nail prints, heard him speak, felt his presence with them once again. Then they began to see past the change to the good Christ had promised.
Changes come to us all. Sometimes they seem to overwhelm and defeat us. But as we see Jesus, hear him speak, and feel his presence, we, too, can begin to see past the pain to the good.
Article originally published in the June 1994 issue of Vital Christianity. Republished by permission. Across the United States and around the world, God is on the move in the Church of God. Join the movement. Give life! Donate today at give.jesusisthesubject.org.