April 19, 2023
“The women were terribly frightened and turned their eyes away and looked at the ground.”
Of course, they were frightened! Who wouldn’t be? The body was gone. The tomb was empty. And now they experience a sudden appearance of two men filling the dark tomb and dull morning with brilliant light from their dazzling.
Terribly frightened is how it is described. When fear such as this strikes, the first natural human response is flight. But these women, even in their extreme fear, did not flee. They stayed. Huh.
The text tells us they “turned their eyes away and looked to the ground.” This is an interesting response. Perhaps they were looking away from the dazzling brightness of the men to protect their eyes. Perhaps looking to the ground helped them find some sense of calm amid terror. Perhaps looking away and looking down kept them anchored.
They held their ground. They did not leave. Remarkable.
Holy courage. Faith in the midst of fear.
These women are teaching us something about how to be in times of being “terribly frightened.”
When fear overwhelms, look away and then look down. Stay put.
Hold your ground.
Look away. Look down. Wait. Listen.
Prayer: Gracious One, in times of terrible fear and sudden alarm, save me from panic. Give me courageous faith to stay, to center, to wait, to listen, that your calming voice may be heard. Amen. Alleluia.
Photo: Bible History Online
I am enjoying these reflections, including today’s.
One comment though. Sometimes women (and others) experiencing fear should NOT stay where they are. Staying put is not always courage — can also be hopelessness, helplessness, and dangerous. Not making eye contact can be a way to show humility to one who is demanding it…but looking down and away can also be used to identify tripping hazards and plan an escape route. There are situations where flight is also a courageous and Godly response, in order that all may have life and have it abundantly. Just sayin’.
That sums up the months I was incarcerated, when I was suicidal, and didn’t want to live because in my mind, I went to the point of no return and there was nothing to look forward to. I begged God, if He could give me a reason to stay, I would. I was afraid of what the rest of my life would look like. Fast forward 16 years later: Gainfully employed, repaired/improved relationships damaged by my actions, part of a church family I love, got married in church (my husband’s idea, by the way), and will be Confirmed soon. God met me in the darkest period of my life, and though I was afraid I held on, and here I am today. Thanks be to God!!!