OK, it’s Easter Sunday morning, and I can join the chorus: He is risen!
But I know from experience that there are Christians out there who are stuck on silent Saturday or Good Friday. For them, Christianity is all–and only–about the cross. Jesus died, they died in Jesus. They had no hope. Jesus is their hope–but they don’t seem to live it.
If you’re not in that place, you can just ignore me, but if you are, remember Easter morning. The point is not that death and suffering are wonderful. The point of realizing your need is not to go on realizing your need. If I’m thirsty, I get a drink of water. Then I’m not thirsty any more. If you’re in need of redemption, find redemption–and don’t keep acting like you never did find it.
I think that in many of our arguments over historical issues, we forget the meaning of the story. The meaning isn’t about doom, death, and destruction. The story tells us that doom, death, and destruction lose in the end.
By going past silent Saturday, I don’t mean that your pretend that bad things don’t happen. Rather, I ask for an essential Easter optimism that says that even when the worst is happening, there’s something to work toward, something to look forward to.
We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. — Romans 6:4 (WEB)
Just so, brother Paul! He’s the one who is most often quoted by the hopelessness crowd, especially his words in Romans 7. But I think Paul was just pretty realistic. Looking and working for good endings doesn’t mean one doesn’t recognize the bad. Recognizing the reality of bad things doesn’t mean giving up on good things.
My wife and I lost a son to cancer at age 17. (She wrote a book, Grief: Finding the Candle of Light.) That’s a bad thing. You may wonder why I put it that way. Some say, “Obviously it’s bad.” Others are thinking I’m putting it too lightly. Yet others are thinking, “He’s a Christian, writing on Easter Sunday morning, and God works all things for the good of those who love him, so it’s not really bad.”
No, it’s really bad. It was, is, and will be really bad. There still are moments when I remember him like he had been here only moments before. When I take his little dog out for a walk in the morning, I remember how he used to stop on his way to school to say good bye to his dog when he saw us walking. It’s a painful moment. I acknowledge it. You should acknowledge your painful moments, times, and seasons as well.
But then there are other things. There is the John Webb Golf Tournament that raises money for the child life program at Sacred Heart Hospital. There are many lives that he touched both before and during his illness.
Do these things make illness and death a good thing? No! Easter morning didn’t make the cross painless either. The point is that you get past it, build on it, shake your fist at death and despair and say, “You don’t get the last word!”
That, I believe, is something Easter should re-teach us each year. Death doesn’t get the last word. Evil doesn’t get the last word.
He has risen. Have you?