Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home– John 19:27
We are commanded to “look to Jesus” on the cross in order to know how to handle suffering (Hebrews 12:2). The third lesson we learn from the seven sayings of Christ on the cross is this: make practical preparations, in the midst of your sorrow.
When we face overwhelming grief, unrelenting discouragement, or pounding pain, it is often hard to know what to do. We tend to want to roll up in a ball and hope that the storm will pass or that some easy solution will present itself.
However, the right response, even in times of great suffering, is to make practical preparations in the midst of your sorrow. You must still get out of bed, or go to work, or do the laundry, or pay the bills, or play with the children, or write up your will — no matter how low you may feel, ignoring your responsibilities will not help any problem go away.
Here was Jesus, in the darkest moment of human history, bearing the brunt of man’s and God’s wrath. No one has ever been in as low a state as Jesus was at this time. And, yet, he is making simple, mundane preparations for after his death. He is making sure that his mother will be cared for.
Elizabeth Elliot calls this fundamental need to face reality the “do the next thing” principle. When you don’t know what to do next, she says, do the next thing. This excellent and practical advice comes from an old, sacred poem:
Do it immediately, do it with prayer;Do it reliantly, casting all care;Do it with reverence, tracing His hand Who placed it before thee with earnest command. Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing, Leave all results, do the next thing. –(“A Good Thing”)