I have been soaking in that hope, as I have seen the days darken for so many over the past few weeks. Human suffering may have changed its label to COVID-19, but the product of suffering always remains the same! The growing number of dead now making the headlines demonstrates that!
Easter does not stop the tears, cushion the blow of losing a loved one or offer protection from the pain of separation. It does not even promise to shield us from the reality of the grave and then having to sit and look at the chair now missing the one who occupied it with us for so long. But Easter does remind us that our hope is a living hope bigger than even the disease that seeks at every turn to flatten it right now. For whereas death has stopped every person who has ever walked this planet,
there is the one exception, Jesus. Nailed to a cross on Friday. Blowing the doors off death on Sunday. Giving hope to all who look to Him for it, for in becoming our Good Friday, He is our Easter Day. Our living hope not just for every day, but in every disease and forever. Jesus does not just add hope to the living but also the eternal to life.
Easter means that there is no need to speak of Jesus in the past tense. He is alive now, and He is our future. He is the hope which I share when I stand with the hurting of our own fellowship at the gravesides of those they are mourning. In Christ, those with whom they shared their lives, are now experiencing what the Bible says, “no eye has seen, no ear has heard.” (1 Corinthians 2:9) But for those still living in the hope of what is to come, we ought not to forget, as Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
At a time of great national crisis, it bothers me that the best hope some people have is to cross their fingers, touch wood and carry a rabbit’s foot with them, trusting it will be luckier for them than it was for the rabbit! There is however a difference between what we might like to happen and what will!
As a young boy sitting with my two brothers in the back seat of my father’s car, we’d inevitably get into some sort of argument and a fight would start. And my dad, being the resolute man that he was, would encourage us with the thought that once back at home we would all be getting what was coming to us! It was absolutely certain, but it wasn’t hope! Not Bible hope. Not living hope that comes in being assured of what God in His great mercy gives us. That living hope, which praise His name, is not what we do deserve, but what we don’t!
Jesus defeated death and promised, “Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19) I know that in these hard and hurting times, hope can be reduced to what we can see and how we do feel, but as our living hope, Jesus does more than take those who love Him to heaven when they die. He also resurrects the broken and bleeding hearts of those left behind to grieve them. Separated though we are by this isolating virus, we can know in separation that reunion is coming, and this living hope will sustain us.
Stay Safe, keep well and be encouraged.
Your Friend and Pastor,