For me, Easter is a paradox. It is dark, terrifying, and wonderful all at the same time.
In contrast to how I often experience Easter with all the bright pastel-colored new clothes, egg-shaped Reese’s peanut butter chocolates in the stores, and spring flowers popping up everywhere…the reason for Easter is that Jesus had to die on a cross for my sins.
This is terrifying because I have to come face-to-face with my sins and know that those sins drove Jesus to the cross. But Easter is also wonderful because for every look I take at my sins, I can look back at the cross and know that my sins are forgiven.
I look at the empty tomb and know that sin, suffering, death have all been defeated. Because He rose from the grave, He will also “wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for these things, will have passed away” (Rev. 21:4). And that reality is comforting. It gives me hope.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I need hope more than ever.
I entered this pandemic going to two funerals of dear friends. I was emotionally depleted, but I needed to rally and lead out of my weakness and desperation – that’s all I had.
Normally, at our weekly prayer meeting at Serge, where I serve as Executive Director, I am quick to offer encouragement, vision, and even some laughter, but I had nothing to offer. I needed to sit in the prayer chair and receive prayers, comfort and the encouragement that Jesus is fully aware of, and fully in control of all my circumstances.
I often joke that I would rather talk about leading out of weakness than actually being weak, but there is comfort in experiencing Christ’s strength manifested in my weakness. I don’t have to fake being strong.
I don’t know what your life is like now, but mine looks like grocery shopping where everyone looks like a bank robber, politely (and often not so politely) staying six feet apart.
Being cooped up has surfaced all my idols of comfort and control and I am forced to deal with those ugly realities, the underbelly of my “private” faith. I want to be the strong and in-control leader, but I am forced to look at the cross and cry out to Jesus for forgiveness for looking to counterfeit gods to just get by.
Leading looks more like being in a circle where we depend on one another rather than me leading from “the top.”
This pandemic is forcing me to look at new ways of doing things, giving me fresh appreciation for the things I have, and helping me rediscover a faith that clings to the cross of Christ.
Right now my heart also needs to cling to the rest of the story.
After the cross, the death, and the burial, there was the empty tomb. God turned the darkest moment into an eternal hope we could never have imagined. Today, I need this resurrection hope to be just as real as the broken path I see right before my eyes.
After spending hours and hours a day on endless Zoom calls, and spending many sleepless nights worrying about how our folks on the field are coping, I need to be refreshed and renewed through the power of the Holy Spirit. That is what I long for this Easter. That is what I need.
We know that this pandemic will pass and we know that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We know that this tension we feel of sorrow and joy makes sense in light of the cross and empty tomb.
We know this current suffering is not the end of the story. Thus we are able to grieve losses while loving our neighbors.
Please remember to pray for all the Serge missionaries who are laying down their lives in some very difficult places to serve the One who laid His life down for them, and raised them to new life in Him.
I pray that you are able to open your heart and meet both the broken and risen Jesus during this Resurrection season. That He will be real — more real than all the pain and suffering that surrounds you.
He is Risen!
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Serge missionaries around the world are uniquely positioned to offer resurrection hope in the face of fear.
If you would like to help us be able to respond quickly to emergencies and crises like the coronavirus pandemic, please give to Serge’s “Urgent Needs” Fund.