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At a Distance

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

By: Jessika Sanders

For the first time ever, I found myself thinking about the crucifixion through Mary’s eyes. I found myself wondering what it must have been like for her as a mother.

I feverishly read through each gospel looking for evidence of Mary’s account.

And each time I found myself coming up short, I found myself hungry for more.

“...the women were watching, at a distance.” Matthew 27:55 NIV


At a distance?

That’s it?

There was nothing about Mary falling apart at His feet.

There was nothing about her being in complete hysterics.

There was nothing about her having to be pulled away or restrained.

How could that be?

A quiet whisper pointed me to my own experiences in the NICU with my son.

I, too, was there “watching at a distance.”

Sometimes in a rocking chair in a corner,

sometimes off to the side.

I watched; never once taking my eyes off my precious son.

And just as there was no mention of Mary’s undoing, there is no mention of mine.

I wasn’t falling apart at my son’s bedside.

I wasn’t in complete hysterics.

I wasn’t being pulled away or restrained.

How could this be?

How could I explain such a reaction?

Don’t get me wrong, I did cry.

I allowed myself to feel.

I cried for my baby and for what he was enduring.

My flesh was no doubt pained, but my soul was oddly at peace.

My soul was at peace just as I suspect Mary’s must have been at peace, too.

My soul was resting in the shelter of The Most High.

My soul was trusting fully in His Sovereign Hand.

My soul was believing in His good and perfect will.

I suspect that at a distance Mary must have pressed into her Heavenly Father. I suspect she rested, trusted, and believed, just like I did. I suspect she leaned on the words delivered to her in the angel encounter all those years before, and in the words of the written prophecies concerning her son, the Messiah.

I suspect these things of Mary because these things were the only way I was able to endure my own experience of watching my son suffer. And how much larger, how much more earth-shattering and supernatural Mary’s experience must have been.

So perhaps the reason we read only that she “watched at a distance” is to show us the true strength of Mary’s faith.

Perhaps the reason we read only that she “watched at a distance” is to show us that even in what looks like the darkest, most hopeless of times, God’s peace can ground us, protect us, and surpass all understanding.

Friend, I pray that today you find encouragement in the Mary who went before us, the Mother of our precious Savior. I pray you find encouragement in knowing that if she can lean into our Heavenly Father and endure one of the darkest days the world has ever known, His supernatural strength and peace will bring you through anything, too.

Jessika Sanders is a published writer who has been featured in Proverbs 31 Ministries’Hope When Your Heart is Heavy devotional (2021), Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr. magazine (2023), and Tyndale’s So God Made a Mother (2023). She is also the co-author of The Good Book Company's Little Ones to Him Belong (2024). You can also find her work here on the Praying Through blog and on her blog Jessika Sanders, Writer. Jessika is also the founder and acting president of Praying Through ministries.

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