This Holy Week, as headlines around the world focus on the horrific terrorist attacks in Turkey and Belgium, I feel equal parts heartsick and hopeless. Sometimes the world feels like such a scary place that I want to barricade myself in my house and never come out.
Around the world, millions of people are offering their thoughts and prayers to the people of Turkey and Belgium, and governments are pledging to double-down on their efforts to end terrorism. I know this show of solidarity is important, but my heart rails against the seeming futility of it. I don’t want more thoughts and prayers and pledges to end terrorism. I crave something much more than that. I want the God who controls time and space and eternity to stop the madness already. I want the God who defeated Satan at Calvary to vanquish him once and for all, so that no other lives are ever torn apart in the time it takes for a bomb to detonate.
Easter is an annual reminder that evil will never have the last word in our world, and this year I need that reminder more than ever. Brokenhearted over a broken world, my heart screams, “Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”
When life is going according to plan, the Christian notion of resurrection can feel nice but not necessary. But when the rug has been ripped out from under us, the idea of resurrection becomes a much-needed lifeline, something we cling to fervently because we need to be reminded that hurt and heartache aren’t going to have the final say. When we are at our lowest, the idea of resurrection becomes a way of life, a hard-fought determination that God can bring beauty from ashes. With Easter right around the corner, here are a few things to keep in mind:
The Resurrection Reminds Us God Can Identify With Our Suffering
Philip Yancey wrote, “One detail in the Easter stories has always intrigued me: Why did Jesus keep the scars from His crucifixion? …From the perspective of heaven, they represent the most horrible event that has ever happened in the history of the universe. Even that event, though, Easter has turned into a memory.” Easter is a poignant reminder that the darkest of nights and the most painful of situations are not beyond God’s power to redeem.
This Holy Week, our world remains as broken as it ever was. And with Easter right around the corner, I hope we will not choose to discount this brokenness with rosy sentiments about how Jesus makes everything better. We know God will one day right all wrongs, but right now there are an immeasurable amount of wrongs. We should not trivialize the very real pain and heartbreak in our world. These tragedies deserve to be mourned. But I hope they will push us toward the God who identifies with our suffering and not away from Him.
As Edward Shillito wrote, “The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak; they rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne; but to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak, and not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.” The resurrection reminds us we have a God who understands our pain and who will be there for us in the midst of our brokenness. The resurrection does not guarantee that God will fix everything this side of heaven, but it does guarantee that He will be there for us in the midst of our suffering.
The Resurrection Reminds Us That This Is Not the End of the Story
Max Lucado called the interval between Jesus’ death and resurrection the “Saturday of silence.” The Biblical narrative details the horror of Jesus’ crucifixion on Friday and the miracle of His resurrection on Sunday. But it is surprisingly silent about the in-between day of Saturday.
In his book He Still Moves Stones, Lucado encourages readers not to overlook the significance of John 20:1: “Early in the morning, while it was still dark.” It had been dark since Friday. The disciples didn’t know the next day would forever change the world and solidify their faith. From their vantage point, it seemed like the story was over. Funerals denote finality. Dead men don’t make curtain calls. The disciples’ futures looked as dark as the night.
We’ve read the end of the story, and we know how things turn out. We know that Sunday came, enabling us to call that fateful Friday “good.” We know that Jesus rose again, but the disciples didn’t know that at the time.
When the disciples went to the tomb on Sunday, they weren’t expecting to find a risen Lord. Death was to them what it is to us: the unconquerable enemy. Throughout all of human history, death had marked the end. Death was the one thing that could not be bargained with, even by the world’s most powerful and wealthy leaders. Death was the final reckoning. No one was immune to its power, and no one was strong enough to overcome its grip.
Jesus, the God-man born of a humble carpenter and an unwed mother, did the one thing no one else in human history had ever been able to do: He rose from the dead. The world’s strongest force met its match in Jesus. The crucified Rabbi became the ultimate comeback kid—the only individual in human history powerful enough to deny death its power. The resurrection proved, once and for all, that the end of the story is never really the end of the story when Jesus is involved.
The Resurrection Gives Us Hope
In our human experience, we will face heartbreaking grief and devastating loss. And yet the resurrection reminds us that we can still have hope, even if we lose everything else. This is not a naïve hope that ignores reality or minimizes suffering. This is a precious and profound hope, one that looks for Jesus through tearstained eyes and clings to Him amidst circumstances that will never fully make sense in this lifetime. This is a faith that looks to the future, resting in the assurance that God will one day wipe every tear from our eyes, leaving us cognizant only of His goodness. The resurrection reminds us that God will one day make all things new.
Whether we’re in a season of joy or a season of loss, the resurrection reminds us that God is present with us through it all. Even as tragedies strike and our hearts feel heavier than usual, we can take comfort in the knowledge that Jesus will make all things new. Jesus’ last recorded words ring as true for us today as they did for the disciples 2,000 years ago: “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).