We celebrated the risen Christ on Sunday and have now entered the season of Easter. After weeks of walking through the dark shadow of Lent that led us to follow in Jesus’ painful, difficult steps toward his suffering and death, we can now walk in the light and joy of Jesus resurrection. I have to admit, though, there are times when I’m tempted to stay stuck in the shadow of suffering and death, forgetting the joy and hope of the resurrection. Sometimes I’m tempted to stay in Lent.
When I look around me and see the real suffering of others in our world, it’s sometimes difficult for me to find the hope of new life. I recently read an article about the effects of hunger and poverty on children’s brain development that stirred within me a gut-wrenching sorrow. Because they are not receiving proper nutrition, their brain development is stunted. This causes a chain-effect of making it difficult for them to learn, thus making it difficult for them to find good jobs...and the cycle of poverty continues. When I first read about this, I only saw the shadow of suffering and death. With a hopeless and somewhat cynical cry, the question arose within me, “Where is the hope of new life here?”
When have you been tempted to stay in the shadow of Lent? When a loved one is sick and the prognosis doesn’t look good, we might find ourselves overwhelmed by the dark news and unable to see any sign of hope. When we’re battling secret struggles that cast a huge shadow of fear, we might find ourselves stuck in our secret suffering. When a relationship breaks and we’re left to wade through the pain and uncertainty on our own, we might find ourselves paralyzed in sorrow. In our despair, the question might arise within us, “Where is the hope of new life here?”
The good news is that we do not have to stay stuck in the shadow of suffering and death. Lent is a journey...it is not the destination. Suffering and death do not have the final word. The joy of Easter is that Jesus really did rise from the dead, offering us the hope of new life. The question that we have asked in our despair continues to be a good question to ask during this Easter season, “Where is the hope of new life here?” To answer this question, we need to open our eyes, not only to the suffering in our lives and the world but to the signs that God is at work to bring new life out of death. Where is God at work to break the cycle of poverty? Where is God at work to offer comfort and support during illnesses? Where is God at work to offer deliverance from secret struggles? Where is God at work to bring about wholeness and healing from a broken relationship?
The signs of new life are all around us. As you notice the green trees, bright flowers, and singing birds, pray that God will open your eyes to the signs of God’s work of hope in your own life and in our world. How can you be part of that new life this Easter season?
Rev. Kelli Hamilton