I was reading the various encounters of the post-resurrection Jesus this past week and was struck by how the Lord did things a bit differently with each follower. No two meetings were exactly the same, from Mary Magdalene’s weeping alone by the empty tomb, to Thomas’s delayed belief in the upper room until He saw the scars of Jesus for himself.
And all the disciples responded differently. However, this part doesn’t surprise me. You might say it is to be expected, having different personalities and being in different circumstances. What is unnerving (at first) is the fact that Jesus responds differently to each follower. Isn’t God supposed to be the same with everyone? But Jesus doesn’t do things the same way. Whether it be Peter, or John, or Thomas, or Mary; Jesus takes different approaches and does different things. He truly gives something new and different to each person (expected and unexpected).
I think upon closer inspection we find that this approach is the perfect way of doing things, and doesn’t take away from the unchanging nature of God.
I have five children and giving them gifts is incredibly difficult. If I decide to give different things, then they complain about what they didn’t get or what they got. Conversely, if I give them the same thing, they will likely get them mixed up; and the one kid that breaks his things quicker will say he needs the other’s toy. And I soon run out of ideas and get fed up with the whole process.
But God gives differently. He knows us perfectly and never gets fed up with our responses. He gives out of His inexhaustible resources and patience. With each gift (and, in this case, encounter), it turns out to be new and perfect every time. So though the different might unnerve and maybe even upset at first, it turns out to be for our best. In truth, God never intends to give to all the same, for Mary needed something so different, and God was pleased to give generously.
For me this is a great comfort. Not only does He know me well enough to give as I need but He loves me enough to give whenever I need. There is no need for me to fret any longer about someone else having something I do not, or getting something from Him in a manner entirely different than I. It will all be perfect and good!