Hope for those who are hurting at Easter
Easter serves as an opportunity to celebrate Jesus' resurrection and promise to return, as well as a chance to be encouraged in our daily hardships and struggles. Of course, there is the promise that one day, Jesus will return and make everything right, but what about the meantime? Surely, Jesus can offer us hope to face the hardship of today.
There are some people that, when they begin to talk to me about faith, make me cringe like I’m hearing a middle school clarinet recital. During struggles, they provide answers that don’t sooth the wounds created by the world, but sting like the noonday sun on a flaming sunburn.
As I look at the pain and struggle of life, I am taken aback. To make things worse, my confusion makes them question my faith.
“Jesus has already won! We have the victory! You just need more faith,” they suggest.
They create smoke and mirrors over the difficulties of life. They epitomize Proverbs 25:20, “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”
Comfort for the Weary
While those encouragements are true, sometimes it’s difficult to look to Jesus’ second coming as our only comfort. It’s like trying to celebrate mile 26 at the start line of a marathon — deep down, you know there’s still a long, laborious process to go.
Jesus will come in glory. He will come in power and might and authority (Revelation 19:11-16). His coming will inaugurate the new world free from pain and hardship and sorrow (Revelation 21:4). But He hasn’t yet.
Before we realize who Jesus will be in the end, we can have comfort in who Jesus has been and how He revealed Himself already. In this world, He came in flesh and blood, with hunger and indignation (Mark 11:12-17). He sat with people, ate with them, and wept over their heartache (John 12:1-2, John 11:33-35). He walked around, blessed children (Mark 10:13-16), and celebrated (John 2:1-2), but He also lost friends and was abandoned (Matthew 14:1-13, Mark 14:50). He came in all humility, choosing to subject himself to the troubles of this world that we are all subjected to for a time (Philippians 2:6-8). He didn’t remain stoic and unmoved by this world. He felt. He felt for us.
His Character as Our Hope
The hope of Jesus' rule and reign is real and it will be evident in the future, but, it’s not yet fulfilled. What can save us from the cynicism that despises this life until Jesus comes back? Jesus, who took up His cross and asked us to follow. Jesus descended from being worshipped in heaven and stepped into the mediocrity of flesh and blood, not to visit, but to die in our place (John 1:14).
In the Old Testament, God showed this same truth about His character. God has every right to demand that we work our way up to Him. Instead, with all of our inadequacies and inabilities, He makes a way for all men to come near. Many of the sacrificial customs are amended with this, “But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons…” (Leviticus 5:7, Leviticus11, Leviticus 12:8). God doesn’t just set the standard of how we can come near to Him; He makes a way even when we can’t meet it.
Today, we’re living with the knowledge of a future resurrection, but within the confines of this flesh and this world. Especially during this season, as we celebrate what the resurrection and its implications, we must not forget the cross and what it shows us: the darkness of this world and the love of a God who suffers on our behalf.