The only proof you’re going to get is what looks like the absence of proof: Jonah-evidence. Matthew 12:39 (MSG)
The Absence of Proof – Signs Series – Part 5
There were people who witnessed the miracles, heard the spine-tingling sermons, saw Jesus after his resurrection, and still did not believe.
The signs were not enough.
When Jesus was asked to show a sign of his authority, he refused. He said: “You’re looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind. All you want is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles. The only proof you’re going to get is what looks like the absence of proof: Jonah-evidence. Like Jonah, three days and nights in the fish’s belly, the Son of Man will be gone three days and nights in a deep grave.” (Matthew 12:39-40 MSG).
Anyone who has experienced physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma will know that the road to healing is like peeling an onion layer by layer. In my own health journey, I tell people that healing feels like three steps forward, two steps back, and over again. Pain and trauma and illness can be locked up in your cells in such a way that healing draws it out. Which means you’ll feel worse before you feel better.
There’s a movement to it.
It shuffles out of your body: as a layer of pain works its way out, it exposes the layer beneath, and you feel that newly exposed layer all the way through as it, in turn, works its way out… and so on. It can take up to a year for trauma to leave the body. Sometimes longer. One onion layer at a time.
Day to day it can look and feel like things aren’t progressing. It can even seem like things are getting worse. It can look like the absence of healing (proof). But you have to dig it all up to get it all out, and that can be a painful, messy process. Like being in the belly of a whale.
You have to enter into the journey to find the light.
Oh, but we want the sign: we want the quick fix, the billboard in the sky, the fix-all tablet. We want the healing yesterday. We want directions an hour ago. We want everyone to know our worth and authority and validity – the signs of our value – every second of every day.
In his book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a !%?#” (The title might seem questionable, but stay with me…), Mark Manson said:
“Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience. Any attempt to escape the negative, to avoid it or quash it or silence it, only backfires. The avoidance of suffering is a form of suffering. [Remember “The Jonah Experience” from yesterday's devotion?] The avoidance of struggle is a struggle. The denial of failure is a failure. Hiding what is shameful is itself a form of shame. Pain is an inextricable thread in the fabric of life, and to tear it out is not only impossible, but destructive: attempting to tear it out unravels everything else with it.”
Rarely do we go freely into the belly of the beast. Disaster and tragedy, being cornered by pain, forces us in. Just like Jonah. Unfortunately, in our modern world, we have been taught that the only way to freedom is “up” – success, winning, achieving, authority, fame, fortune – that’s where we think the signs are. We have to teach ourselves and others the language of descent. All good religion and spirituality teach us how to enter willingly and trustingly into the dark periods of life. Because, as Jonah found out, and as Jesus showed us, these dark periods are good teachers, and bring about the transformation we need. They midwife resurrection, which is the true sign, the proof, of grace at work in us. It’s in the transforming, the living – the dying and the reviving – that we find the signs of life.
Written by Lizzy Milani