Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:34-35, NIV)
Is this the best or worst Mother’s Day card ever? Probably both.
A sword will pierce your soul, Mary. And surely he was speaking truth.
How about you and me? Has your soul been pierced because of Jesus? Have you felt that pain that divides you against yourself? Mary the mother could not bear to see her son tortured and crucified. And yet, had she spared him that agony, we all would have been lost.
I am not in the position of Mary, but part of me desires and longs for what cannot abide with Jesus. At the same time, part of me cries out for Jesus. I cannot have one without cleaving the other from my soul. Jesus cannot do his work in me without cutting away the parts of me that oppose his work. My soul does not understand this. It only feels a part of itself being ripped away, and it fights to hold on.
This is the biggest challenge I find in discerning the nature of my own heart. The sin that resides in me does not walk around in a little Hitler costume making it easy for me to celebrate its death. Even those parts of me that I know are from the darkness feel close to me. Like my flat feet, they are flawed and even painful at times, but they are part of me. Do I dare imagine the sword?
This is why I need brothers and sisters helping me to see what I cannot see. This is why I need the means of grace such as Scripture, prayer, and fasting. This is why I need an old geezer like Simeon, who hung on all those years to tell Mary those wonderful and painful words.