Pastor's wife: In the darkest times, Jesus is there


It was my turn to teach at the jail on Sunday. I shared one of my favorite Resurrection stories…

Mary Magdalene went to the tomb while it was still dark. “Dark” was an understatement.

Jesus had released her from seven demons (Mark 16:9), and this Mary had begun a new life with Him. Where He went, she followed. She had put all of her heart into serving Him. She believed, no, knew that He truly was the Son of God. She was there when Jesus had healed the lame, the sick, and the lepers. He had fed thousands with a little boy’s lunch, and given a man sight using His spit and some mud. He had changed countless lives, including hers! And then, the unthinkable happened.

Not only had the religious leaders treated Jesus horribly, but Roman soldiers had brutalized Him. Finally, Pilate, the governor, had handed Him over to be crucified. She had seen it all.

Mary Mag heard Jesus’ last words and saw breath leave His body. She watched as He was taken down from the cross. Saw a man named Joseph from Arimathea take His body, wrap it in clean linen, and place it in a tomb (Matthew 27:57-61). A stone was rolled against the entrance.

Devastated and confused, Mary Mag would have gone home to prepare for the Sabbath, which was quickly approaching. How terrifyingly dark that Sabbath would have been! Jesus had been her hope. Her strength. Her friend. To whom could she turn now?

But. Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Mag went to the tomb. The stone had been rolled away. She ran to tell Peter and John. They raced back to the tomb. Mary stood outside it crying.

Sidebar: John reported that she was “crying.” Considering all that she had been through, I’d say it was a bit more than that. Realistically she would have been wailing, sobbing, or blubbering. It was a LOT. She was crying so hard she hadn’t realized Jesus was there right beside her.

Jesus spoke her name and she KNEW. She KNEW it was Him! And He was very much alive!

The takeaway is that Jesus is with us during dark times, life-shattering, gut-wrenching times. We may not realize it or recognize Him because of our tears, grief, or despair, yet He. Is. There. I love that He told Mary not to hold on to Him, but to go and tell the disciples. I told the girls many years ago - before the internet - people said there were three ways to get information out: telephone, television, and tell-a-woman. We all laughed. That’s what Jesus did. He told a woman to go and tell. So, she did.

The girls at the jail know what dark times are like.

We’ve known Lorraine (name changed) for a while. We’ve seen her numerous times over the years. Turning 59 this week, she has had a life of struggle. On Sunday, as we talked about how Jesus can help us through dark times, one of her cellmates whispered to her and pointed to her hand. I noticed it was wrapped in white material.

At the end of our study, I had the opportunity to pray with Lorraine. “I’ve been having a hard time,” she told me in a quiet voice. I saw stitches sticking out from the thin bandage. She had gotten hard news while in jail about her granddaughter’s health, and a family member had stolen all of her money. It’s fair to say it was the darkest time of her life. She found the sharpest thing available and slit her wrist. Though still alive, she had done some damage.

We finished the Bible study with “There was Jesus,” by Zack Williams and Dolly Parton. The words say it all. I ugly cried through the whole thing.

If you are experiencing a dark time, Jesus wants to help you through it. He can bring light into your situation. Like Mary Mag, Jesus is my strength, my hope, my friend. I want that for you, too.


Dawn Reed is a pastor's wife and newspaper columnist. Reach her at