And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Luke 9:22 NIV
I didn’t plan to read this passage for Good Friday but don’t you think it’s fitting? Christs’ sacrifice is worthy of being remembered any time of year but this verse seemed to take on a new life this morning as I watched the lovely face of spring from my front porch. Birds were everywhere, the grass is turning green again, the sky was a beautiful robin egg blue and I could have just stayed there all day. Alas, too many errands to run and a child to say goodbye to at the end of spring break. So, I had to get on with my day.
However, this verse kept rolling around in my head. Not only because I was reminded of the love of my Savior and His unfathomable grace towards me, but because I realized how easily I become stuck in life. Suddenly, Philippians popped in my head.
“…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10 NIV
And I realized what I’d been missing lately.
Isn’t that what Easter is all about? Hope?
I realized one reason that I love gardening so much and why I’ve been in the dirt as much as possible lately. Sure, I love the smell of broken soil, the beauty of buds popping up around the yard and the feel of the sun on my face; but, the real joy is the hope and expectation of what might come. Of the possibilities that lie in the work I do. Of seeing life growing out of what was dead.
But satan loves to steal our hope and I, for one, am all too willing to hand it over.
I often forget how much suffering and rejection Jesus had to bear. Judgement from his family, betrayal and loss of friends, rejection from the people he wanted to help, false accusations, attacks on his character and (I think the hardest to bear) loneliness. I’m so grateful that He understands those very things that have broken me because I need someone to just let me cry when it becomes too much to bear. Sharing in his sufferings comes all too easy but honestly, my sufferings are nothing compared to those of the persecuted around the world. They truly know and understand the idea of sharing in Christ’s suffering. Regardless, Jesus doesn’t discount my sufferings and He cares. He also knows that I suffer pretty well. Too well to be honest.
It’s easy to find ourselves stuck in pain and hopelessness, isn’t it? But that isn’t the end of our call as Christians. Christ affirms the truth that we will suffer but He calls us on to more.
He calls us to death.
Yep. And you thought I was going to say resurrection didn’t you?
We can’t experience the power of Christ’s resurrection without submitting to the pain of death. There’s a progression here and I can’t skip the steps that I don’t like. Making my own little comfy place in the middle of suffering may not be fun but it is easy and we can find satisfaction there. But we won’t know the joy and power and hope of Christ’s resurrection in our lives if we don’t pick ourselves and our pain up off the floor and voluntarily place it on the altar with the intention of dying to it all.
Dying to the hurt, the offense, the loneliness, the pain, the loss….
Dying so that we can be free of the hold it has on us. We have to die so Christ can help us live.
We have to trust and hope no matter how hopeless the situation seems. We do that because we know the beauty of Easter.
That God still raises things from the dead.
In His own time and in His own way.
He breaths life back into His people.
Like a beautiful Paper white blooming In January when all else is cold and hard He will send a sign of life. Maybe a conversation or a feeling. A laugh when you’d forgotten that you could. A card or a song that lifts your heart. He will bring life to us if we can just trust and believe.
If we can just keep breathing.
If we will remember to hope in the beauty of Easter.