Easter Morning is deceptive. We endure the grave, the darkness of every hour from Good Friday – or for some, forty days before on Maudy Tuesday – until dawn on Easter Sunday. We look forward in hope that there will be life.
We hang on in desperate anticipation that on Easter Sunday, the fact of Jesus’ resurrection will change something. After all, it is only the promise of life at the end of a season of darkness that gives us the strength to endure the oppression of death.
But here we sit, isolated in our houses. Mid-pandemic. Surrounded by daily announcements of death.
And pandemic aside, we are still suffocated by addiction, conflict, abuse, mental turmoil, the feeling of being lost.
The disease has not lifted.
Humans are still plagued by death of every brand. What resurrection?
On Easter Sunday, when we are supposed to be celebrating an empty grave, we still wake up to find ourselves lying in one the shape of our very soul.
Why the centrality of the Christian faith on Easter? If it doesn’t lift death from us, why claim life? If it doesn’t change lives, why do we celebrate it?
Faith is a word I am right now uncomfortable with. It’s a fluffy dagger word, used for both giving easy answers and perpetuating hatred. It’s something people blame the ‘other’ for not having when they aren’t healed, or when they become sick in the first place.
As if faith were the immediate anti-dote to disease of both flesh and soul.
Then why do so many who presume to possess ‘faith’ still find themselves in painful dirt six feet up to their eyeballs? Especially on Easter Sunday?
Because Jesus himself wasn’t spared of suffering.
Suffering is an unavoidable human condition. We feel joy and sorrow, just like we feel hot and cold, hunger and contentment. It’s a channel of information, neither evil or good in and of itself.
In suffering we have a choice, just as Jesus did.
Jesus knew ALL that would happen to him – every jeer, every denial, every stumble, every whip, every nail. And he still chose to submit to the suffering. He presented himself to the guards when the cavalry came to arrest him, so nobody else would get hurt.
He knew that on the other side was life, not just for him, but for all humanity, for all time. He knew that with his resurrection, Death would be limited in its reign of terror. He knew that the climax of every single one of our stories of suffering could then denouement with the Peace that brings tangible freedom from death’s vice-grip.
Jesus himself, along with a couple of women, were the only ones who experienced the benefits of resurrection on actual Easter morning. Immediate liberation from their mortality and grief.
Everybody else was still waiting.
Most still had left to see his life past death, or at least be convinced of it. He still had breakfast to cook Peter on the beach, disciples to break free from their feelings of abandonment, forty days of telling people of His Father’s goodness. After those forty days of seeking people out he ascended. And still after that, more time of waiting for his disciples to receive the Comfort of his Holy Spirit when it came like rushing fire in the Upper Room.
I’ve come to see faith as this: trusting in God’s authority.
Either we believe God as High Priest and King, or we believe ourselves to be.
Either we believe Jesus for provision, or we strive tirelessly to provide for ourselves.
Either we believe Jesus for protection, or we fight to the death defending ourselves.
Either we trust that God is in control, or we only believe ourselves to be.
Do I trust in God’s authority in my life, over the world?
Some days. I’m still working on it.
But those glimmers of time where I do are peaceful, relaxing. Freedom is not dependent on me to bring. Like a child knowing dinner will be on the table at 6pm every night.
Like how Peter in the hopeless sorrow of his denial of Christ went back to the only other occupation he knew – fishing. But Jesus found him there and had fish cooking before Peter could even finish his first shift back, forgiveness offered before Peter could even apologize.
Maybe we have another night of suffering. Maybe it’s forty more days. Maybe we have longer to wait until the Comforter of our Spirits shows up.
But if I know God at all, he WILL show up.
Trusting in God’s authority, not my own.
I am insufficient to release myself of the drama of human suffering. I am incapable of even shielding my own children from it.
And that is why I need a Savior. That is why I celebrate Easter morning. Not because I am released from my pain right now, but because it is not up to me to lift it.
Heaven knows I cannot help myself.
God is not just brute force that blasted a tomb open. He is also compassion. He stopped to fold the linens he was wrapped in before he emerged into the world a man alive.
I can trust the authority of Jesus to have the compassion to see my pain, but also have the power to release me from the tomb for good.
Why do we still celebrate Hope on a morning when Hope seems so desperately far away?
Because we choose to believe in the authority of Jesus. The authority he preached in his lifetime, and demonstrated with his resurrection and ascension.
Jesus’ death was only a moment – barely three days – in the whole scope of human time. Which is nothing for a God who resides outside of time.
Jesus’ death did not remove his authority. His resurrection proved it.
Does Easter morning change a season of life in quarantine?
Not instantly. This is still pandemic. Resurrection from our suffering often isn’t instant. But does lack of immediacy change the authority of a powerful God of compassion? No.
In God we can trust.