What is it about emptiness that makes us feel so uncomfortable?
We don’t like for things to be empty - not our stomachs, not our wallets, and not even our calendars. We associate emptiness with loss. Sacrifice. Missing out. We have created the idea as a society that fullness equals completeness - satisfaction. In the Bible Study, Breathe, Priscilla Shirer discusses the idea that “scarcity scares.” That, for some reason, we believe that less is indeed less and makes us less somehow as well. We’re so afraid of going without, that we overcompensate and overindulge to ensure that emptiness never occurs. Plan more. Buy more. Eat more. Do more. Have more. Avoid emptiness at all costs.
But have you ever noticed that God isn’t scared of emptiness? He isn’t deterred by it?
In fact, God responds to emptiness in quite the opposite way. Whereas we see emptiness as an end - an indication that our snack, fun, or popularity is somehow over - God sees it as an opportunity.
Consider creation. Genesis 1:2 says, “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
Notice the scripture doesn’t say Now the earth was without form and void and God was appalled at the emptiness and ran away. Or God decided he needed to fill up all that emptiness just so it wouldn’t seem so lonely around there anymore. No. This verse tells us that God was very present in the emptiness. His Spirit was hovering over it. He was giving thoughtful consideration to the emptiness itself. And then:
God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.” (Gen. 1:3-4)
And then - creation. Light. Life. God saw the emptiness and found in it an opportunity to bring forth a new thing. To create. To make. And we know the story. Creation continues and with it more and more life. More newness. More beauty.
Consider the widow’s jar. Almost completely empty of flour. Her oil jug with only drops remaining. Teetering on the edge of emptiness. Elijah’s request for a little cake of bread seems outrageous and impossible. There’s not enough for even her and her son to eat. And then:
For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the the earth.” (1 Kings 17:14)
And then - provision. Flour. Oil. God saw the emptiness and made a miracle from it. An opportunity to reveal His faithfulness to Elijah, the widow and her son. And the rest of the story?
The jar was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that He spoke by Elijah. (1 Kings 17:16)
Consider the tomb. The crucifixion giving way to death and darkness for three agonizing days. The body laid in the grave. The stone rolled and the entrance sealed. The end to Jesus. His promises broken. His disciples devastated and terrified. His reign...over. And then:
But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen!” (Luke 24:1-6a)
And then - Resurrection! Salvation! Death conquered! Victory Won! God used the emptiness this time to demonstrate His power over the grave. Over sin. Once and for all. For all.
The empty tomb still echoes with the resounding glory of the Resurrected King. He is not here!!! He has risen!
And thus emptiness gives way to Life once again. But this time that life is eternal life in Heaven with Christ Jesus our Lord! Hallelujah!
The tomb is empty. He is not there.
He is Risen.
He is Risen, indeed.