When Things Go Wrong

Some people are optimists. They’re the folks who always expect good thing to happen. They see a silver lining in even the darkest days.

Some people are pessimists. Like Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh’s friend, they expect disaster right around the corner. However good things are right now, they’re sure it won’t last. Reality is about to jump out and bite them. Pessimists often deny the term, preferring to call themselves “realists.” Ron Heifetz describes this as a strategy of protecting oneself from any disappointment.

Have you ever been disappointed? I bet some of you are going through disappointments – even major ones – right now. You expected things, sometimes events, maybe your life as a whole, to turn out one way, but that way has never happened. Or if it did, what you expected to be good has been anything but.

Jesus’ disciples expected the best from Jesus. They’d heard his teaching. They’d seen his miracles. They’d seen him win encounter after encounter with the Pharisees and Sadduccees. They knew he was the one who would redeem Israel.

But then disaster struck. He was arrested. Hey, that’s no problem. He escaped every other predicament he’d been in. He’ll make it out this time, too. What? He’s not escaped yet? He’s on trial? He’s been convicted? They’re going to crucify him? Jesus – the one we thought was the Messiah – is dead? How could it be? We know for sure what’s coming next. The police will be coming after us. They’ll track us down, torture us and kill us. That’s what they always do to the folks who try to stand up for God.

Perhaps you’ve noted that transition in expectations in the Gospels.

The disciples were right to recognize the days as dark. Hard to get much darker than a brutal death. They were right to not venture into the la-la land that said something like, “Well, Jesus is in a better place now. He was just too good for this world.” Such a trip to la-la land completely misses what God was up to. Jesus came into the world knowing full well that the days were dark. At his baptism this non-sinner took upon himself the sins of humanity, setting himself up to absorb their consequences. He’d told the disciples that death awaited him in Jerusalem. They just never got it.

But death wasn’t the end for Jesus. The forces of sin, death and hell didn’t get the last word with him. God got the last word with Jesus, and his word was Live!

Whether you reckon yourself an optimist, a pessimist, a realist – or whatever – God’s word to you is Live! We find that life today through faith in the crucified and risen Jesus. Live in him.

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