When you think of something that’s empty, it’s often a negative thought: an empty cookie jar, an empty wallet, an empty gas tank, or an empty house. But with Easter just past, I’m reminded of something else that’s empty—and I’m glad that it is—the empty tomb.
The fact that Jesus’ tomb is empty is what fills me with hope. The emptiness of His tomb provides the promise that someday our new world will be empty too—empty of heartache, crying, pain, and death.
I’ll never forget the day when our then four-year-old daughter reminded me of the importance of that empty tomb. It was an ordinary, peaceful afternoon. I was alone in our family room when the phone rang, bringing horrible news about a dear friend.
“Nancy!’ a voice cried into the phone. “Shannon has been murdered!” The phone began to slip from my hand and I nearly fell to my knees in shock and grief.
Several years before, Shannon had been a faithful member of my youth group. She was the kind of teen you could count on—always willing to help, always attending every function, and always encouraging. She was one of the kindest people I knew, had been our daughter’s first baby sitter, and was a true servant who lived her life for others. But now, through one brutal act, she was gone from our lives.
I don’t remember the rest of that phone call. I just remember feeling numb. I was in such shock that when I told my family, I didn’t even cry. But later that day, eating dinner with my husband and daughter, the tears finally came.
“What’s wrong, Mommy?” our daughter asked, her brow wrinkled with concern.
“Sweetie, I’m crying because I’m sad. Shannon was hurt so badly that the doctors couldn’t make her well.”
“Don’t cry Mommy,” she said in a hopeful tone. “You know that when Jesus comes back He’ll bring Shannon out of her tomb!”
It was matter-of-fact to her. No doubts. He’d promised and someday He’d do it.
When Easter came around that year, she drew me a picture that I placed in our family scrapbook. To some, the picture might look like circles, lines and scribbles. But to me, it looks just like what she said it was–the sun shinning brightly, an angel in the sky, a smiling Mary, and Jesus standing next to an empty tomb. To me it speaks of the faith of a little child who simply believes this: just as Jesus promised that He would rise–and He did, He promised to raise those we love–and He will. Halleluiah.
“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said’” (Matthew 28:5,6).
—Written by Nancy Canwell