A seemingly broken promise, the end of hope, and the death of what was supposed to be. This Easter, what do you do when what you love dies?
It is a time of great uncertainty in the world today. There have been numerous attacks and great tragedies across multiple nations. Governments are in breakdown, millions of dollars are being removed from people’s livelihoods because of the actions of a single plane crew, children are being shot in schools, and at the time of writing this, I am hoping that a thermonuclear war hasn’t broken out.
And yet I feel like in light of the international and corporate turmoil, many people would say their internal conflict is perhaps more dominant in the human heart. Easter, like birthdays and other repeated holidays, is a time where you remember where you were this time last year, this time three years ago, perhaps even this time 10, 20, 30 years ago.
We aren’t always greatly encouraged when we are reminded of the many dreams we have had to watch fall away. When we remember all those we have had to say goodbye to. When we think of where we thought we might be, doing the things we might have done. I can even remember Easters in my own life where this was exactly my experience.
Easter can be a time of turmoil, or perhaps it just so happens to be just another week amidst an extended period of turmoil in your life.
And yet, the Easter message is exactly the one we need when we feel like that. Because it is the first Easter that speaks hope into our lives when what you love dies.
Three women – two Marys and one Joanna – approach the tomb of the one they loved. Jesus had meant so much to these women and to dozens more. To them, Jesus represented a new future after a damning past. He spoke of love and new life, of compassion and correction, of holiness and humility. It was meant to be that their lives would be better than they ever were before. He had given them so many promised of restoration and new beginnings, and they had finally started to believe him.
Then they had to experience when what you love dies.
Jesus was gone. Executed by the Roman government. Hung out to die. Then he had been buried for days. And so, as many of us do, they visited the tomb of what they loved. The tomb that reminded them of all they’d hoped for. The tomb that brought up the pain of what they lost.
And then they were greeted by a question from heaven – “Why do you seek the living amongst the dead?”
As Jesus had told them he would, he had risen again. As Jesus had told them, they would not have to stand at his grave and weep.
And as Jesus had told them, every single promise he made to them was coming true. It just didn’t seem to be happening the way they expected.
Even after Jesus’ resurrection, things never went back to the way they were. It was the death not just of Jesus’ physical body, but also of the community they had known with him at the centre, of following him around to hear him teach by lakes and mountainsides, of seeing oppression ended the way they expected. Such an amazing miracle still had implications for how they had been hoping and believing for years.
And yet as Jesus would point out, even in the change that was to come, he was fulfilling everything that had been promised to them.
I wonder if we do the same with the losses in our lives. If we are going back to the grave of things that have actually had a resurrection, but will never be fulfilled the way we originally expected. If we are living in the tomb of yesterday and missing the new life of today. “No, it has to be fulfilled the way I expected”. “It has to… it has to… even though this path is long dead and starting to decay…”
Why do you seek the living amongst the dead?
This Easter, what are the dead places you find yourself revisiting? Is it a friendship you’ll never get back? A relationship destroyed, a career path gone, a business partnership unsalvageable, a specific way of fulfilling your promise that can no longer occur?
I wonder if you will allow heaven to correct your perspective on those things you mourn as lost. Because while a particular path may have been broken, while a certain way of fulfilling your dreams may be dead, God’s promise for you has not changed, and the dreams he has given you can still be fulfilled.
If you’ll accept the death of what was and stop revisiting the grave site of what will no longer be, and enter into the new life and fulfillment of your dreams and desires God still has for you.
We thought he would do it a certain way. It was painful and traumatic the loss we suffered because he didn’t. Perhaps you suffered very real, very crippling pain as a result.
Yet he still has not forgotten his promise for you. He will see it through as he originally intended. No matter what people may have done to destroy you or frustrate the good things set aside for you, in this Easter resurrection, what was dead no longer needs to hold any power. We no longer need to stand at the cross or wait in the tomb. They were losses that hurt, but they were not our final destination.
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call.
Because he rose again, you can too.