Sunday is a banner day for Christians. Sunday we celebrate Easter. We celebrate the fact that Jesus is risen from the dead. We celebrate a faith that centers around life and hope rather than death and despair.
Let's not get caught up in the pagan easter bunny/easter egg/Ishtar stuff. Let's not get caught up in a discussion about the evidences pointing the truth of the resurrection.
Rather, let's just celebrate that we serve a risen savior. Can we do that?
I believe that Jesus is alive. I believe that He died on a cross to not only pay the price for sin but to become sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. I believe that He arose from the dead victoriously with power over death, Hell, and the grave. I believe that because He is alive we have hope.
Sometimes it's the only thing that keeps a person going - the hope of something better, something greater. Sometimes it's the only reason to keep moving forward - the hope that there's actually something worth hoping for.
Sometimes it's the only reason to keep your head up - the hope that this valley will open up into wide open spaces.
Without the resurrection there is no hope. Without the resurrection there is only a man who taught some things worth living by. Without the resurrection the death on the cross is just another death. Without the resurrection we have nothing to look forward to beyond this present world.
I have to believe that Jesus is alive. I have to believe that He is sitting even now at the right hand of the father making intercession for me. I have to believe that in the midst of personal heartache, He is alive and well and cares for me.
This is why I celebrate Easter.
From the time that Jesus was arrested until the morning when the stone was rolled away must have been a dark, hopeless time for His disciples. Imagine the hope that must have swelled in their hearts as they began to hear reports of that He lived again. Thomas doubted, surely a defense mechanism to keep from being disappointed again. Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves. Imagine the joy that must have filled their hearts as Jesus stood among them and said simply, "Peace." Imagine the rapture of Mary's heart as she heard Him speak her name in the garden.
How does scripture put it? "Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)
The resurrection morning was a morning filled with joy, hope, and the washing away of the pain of the days leading up to it.
We all need a resurrection morning sometimes. We all need to come to the end of weeping and experience joy. This is why I celebrate Easter. Because even if I have nothing else to rejoice in....even if I am blinded to anything else worthy of rejoicing in by pain, heartbreak, or circumstances...the fact remains Jesus is alive if my rejoicing can only begin at an empty tomb, then let it begin and grow from there.
He is risen...He is risen indeed!.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Disclaimer: I am not feeling like this today, rather I am claiming what I know to be true even though I don't feel it at all. Sometimes we have to claim His promises to make them real in our lives. I have to claim and believe this today, even though I don't feel it.
We've all heard the phrase "alone in a crowd." That phrase carries no greater meaning for me than when I am experiencing hurt, fear, frustration, or I am just confused by things that life may throw at me.
Pain and heartache have a way of doing that to everyone. (If I use "we" or "us" please understand that I mean ME as much as anyone else - probably moreso.) We feel isolated in whatever we are facing even if we are facing similar circumstances to others around us.
God tells us through Paul though, "That no temptation has befallen us except that which is common to man..." I understand that temptation is different from trials and tribulation, but the principal is the same. The common thread among humanity is that we have all at one time or another experienced loss, heartbreak, pain, or confusion. The other common thread among us is that we normally feel like no one in this world can understand how we feel, or in my case, doesn't want to have to put up with us when we are down.
It's easy to feel alone, and in feeling alone it's easy to get stuck in feeling forsaken by everyone...even God.
One of the first commentaries that God made about humanity is that it is "not good that man should be alone." God didn't create us to be creatures of complete solitude. He made us with a need for companionship, family, and friendship. As sin blasted its way into creation, everything got broken. Humanity was broken, creation was broken, and our relationship with God was broken.
In His infinite love and mercy though, God declared to us that He would NEVER leave us or forsake us.
I am a child of God. He is my Heavenly Father, and I can approach the throne of grace boldly. He has told us time and time again throughout His word that He loves us and cares about us. He also promises to provide for our every need.
So many times we limit our needs to the physical things of this world. We need food, shelter, clothing, and we may very well to trust God with those things. What about the emotional and spiritual side of our being? Don't we have real needs to be met in those areas as well? If we trust God for food and shelter, why not trust Him for peace and comfort? Why not trust God for fulfillment and to truly bind up a broken heart?
Maybe it's because we want to be ok RIGHT NOW. Maybe it's because I want to be ok RIGHT NOW. Pain hurts. It's not fun. A broken heart will suck the life out of a person. Confusion will stop us in our tracks and fill us with fear on what step to take next.
But pain helps us grow, broken hearts teach us how to love others, confusion causes us to seek the right answers and from them become all the wiser.
So while the pain and heartbreak and confusion may not be immediately taken away from us by God, He promises to be right there in the midst of it with us.
Consider Elijah the prophet. Here's a guy who called fire down from Heaven, killed the prophets of Baal, by his word the skies refused to rain, and by his word rain fell again. In a moment of fear, he ran for his life. Even while he was on the run God did not forsake him. He sent a meal in the wilderness and spoke softly in the mountain.
Then there's Peter. Peter who denied having any association with Jesus while Jesus was going through the hardest time in his life. After Jesus rose from the dead he stood on a beach with Peter and confirmed that he wasn't done with Peter. He hadn't forsaken Peter.
What an amazing truth that even when we aren't faithful to God, He is still so faithful to us!
Jesus cried from the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus, in agony, experienced God turning away from Him so that we would never have to experience the hopeless despair of loneliness apart from God. Christ was forsaken so that we would never be.
I don't always feel it. I don't always walk in it. But I have to always believe that I am unforsaken. God has not forgotten me. God has not abandoned me. God has not finished with me.
I am unforsaken. I am never alone. I have a friend that sticks closer than a brother. I have a father who holds me in His arms when I am wounded and weary.
Alone in a crowd? I know what that feels like. Completely alone? I will never have to experience that because God will never leave me nor forsake me.