Easter is a holiday you can feel in the air. It comes right when the cold weather has made its final stand. Victory! The sunshine and warmer weather has sent those cold, dark clouds back to where they came from (except for in New York, I don’t know when your warm is coming, but it is, right? Yeah, it has to, hold on!) Flowers start to blossom, store fronts change from jackets to swim suits, winter snow scenes to spring bouquets -- it’s here.
For most, this is a season of excitement and anticipation, a celebration of new life both physically and spiritually. But for the sufferer, it’s yet another season where the absence of our loved one is felt deep within. Another holiday that we ache to celebrate the joy of life with ALL of our family. Even though I am happily remarried to an amazing man, this holiday hits me especially hard each year.
My late husband John-Michael loved Easter. He sang on Easter morning like he had won the Mega Millions, because in light of the cross, he knew he had won. Oh, how I long for the day when I can sing with him again of the triumph of Easter. Don’t you, my suffering friend? How badly do you want to sing knowing that all the bad has been wiped away and that full restoration has finally come? I want it so bad, but here we are, stuck in the middle. Somewhere between the Easter baskets and egg hunts, Lent devotionals, and church celebrations, we’re tired and don’t yet fully feel the triumph of Easter. The winter may have passed, but the final frost on our soul hasn’t seemed to melt quite yet.
"INSTEAD OF EXPLAINING OUR SUFFERING, GOD SHARES IT" - Nicholas Wolterstorff -
Widow, sufferer, Easter is for you. I know it because the coming of the first Easter must have felt a lot the same for the disciples. They had left everything to follow Jesus. They planted all their stakes and dreams in Him. They believed that their season of long suffering would lead to a triumphant victory here on Earth. They didn’t expect the cross, they didn’t expect death. They were certain that He was going to break down the temple and rebuild it, in front of their very eyes. Their idea of restoration looked so much different than what God had in mind.
Even when told by Jesus that He would die and rise again (Matthew 20:17-19), they didn’t understand, thinking that they wouldn’t suffer quite that much, and surely neither would the Son of God. But as Good Friday hit, they were stunned. Jesus died. All their dreams and plans were destroyed. The death of Jesus shook the disciples so much that they locked themselves in a home, for fear that everything they believed could have been wrong (John 20:19). They had no idea what to do next. This wasn’t the life they thought they signed up for. We can say that again: This wasn’t the life we thought we signed up for.
Like the disciples, we cannot comprehend the full meaning of the suffering we are going through. I, too, have sat in the quiet of my home thinking, sometimes screaming, “WHAT am I going to do next?!” I cannot give you a concrete answer as to why my beloved, funny, young, full-of-life, late husband is not with me to celebrate Easter this year.
Even with warnings in scripture that promise suffering here on Earth, I couldn’t have fathomed the heartache that could come from it. But, hold on, it’s what happened next in the disciples’ lives that changed the story for them and changed the story for you and me -- completely, forever! All the sufferers, and honestly, all the Earth, hinges on what happened next. At the moment of complete darkness, complete chaos, and complete hopelessness, enters our Savior …
“PEACE TO YOU!” -- Luke 24:36
Jesus was alive. Jesus rose from the dead. JESUS CONQUERED DEATH. And what are His first words to them? Peace. My dear friends, peace. “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see …” (Luke 24:38-39). It was Him. Can you imagine the relief they must have felt? Death was no longer the final answer. There was Someone greater, and He faced the curse of death and conquered it for us. This was a triumphant victory.
It is just like Jesus to meet us with hope and promise in the midst of confusion.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
This Easter, the promise of the resurrection is for you. The cross declares that Jesus has tasted death for you so that it doesn’t have to be the final word for you, for your kids, or for your life. In the place of havoc, Jesus has offered peace. No matter what this broken world throws at you, no matter the plots Satan hatches to destroy, take heart, Jesus has overcome them all. You may not be singing with flowers in your hair, you may very well be in the stillness of your home, holding onto that last shred of hope that victory is coming. It is. It has. You can’t see fully right now what restoration will look like, but in Christ, you will. In Christ, your hope is as rock-solid as the defeat of winter and the restoration of spring.