Today is Easter.
I am supposed to be at the beach with my family and friends celebrating. We were supposed to watch the sun rise over the water this morning as we remembered our Risen Savior. There was supposed to be bike rides and boardwalk walking and laughs and late nights. There was going to be communion and worship together. We were going to watch our kids play and run carefree into the ocean like it was a warm summer day.
Guess where I’m not?
Like all of you, our life has been radically thrown up in the air in the last four weeks, it’s contents falling back to the earth and scattering in a manner that makes it nearly impossible to put back together in a sensical way. There are no longer days of the week. There now only seems to be yesterday, today and tomorrow. The everyday patterns and normalcy I once took for granted, I now long for. A million questions about the future swirl endlessly through my brain – will there be school again? Will work ever look the same again? When will I get to see all 12 of my girls again? Will there be vacation this summer? Will we continue to make ends meet? When I try to imagine a time months from now, it looks like a picture that is completely out of focus. Where are we and who is there and are we all ok? Will I survive this?
Woah. Deja vu.
Five years ago I was undergoing tests and scans and procedures to try to nail down a probable diagnosis of cancer. There was nothing but uncertainty. There was only the before and the today. I longed for the normalcy and patterns that once existed in my life. There was no end to the questions that ran through my brain – will work ever look the same again? Will there be vacation this summer? Will we continue to make ends meet? The future was blurry. Where are we and am I there and is everyone ok? Will I survive this?
Since that first diagnosis on May 15, 2015 there has been a constant and varying level of uncertainty in my life.
You may have been here before too or maybe the weight of this kind of uncertainty is a new feeling for you. Either way, we are all here now. Together, asking all the questions and feeling the heaviness of the fear and anxiety that is married to the uncertainties of life.
Today is Easter.
Do you know what that means?
Imagine Saturday as a disciple, friend, follower of Jesus. Imagine watching the gruesome and barbaric way he was treated, put to death and seemingly defeated. Imagine the fear of wondering if you would be next. Imagine the confusion. A week before, they thought he was marching into Jerusalem to overthrow Rome and establish the Kingdom he talked nonstop about. Now he was dead, gone and all hope gone with him. Imagine the uncertainty.
Maybe it’s not so hard for you to imagine. Maybe those emotions, those fears are living terribly close to the surface of your heart right now too. Be encouraged friend, today is Easter.
Imagine Sunday morning Mary approaching the grave of her beloved Savior. She came as a downcast mourner and left with dancing feet, heart leaping with joy – she found an empty grave. Imagine the disciples, hunkered down, dejected, fearful, suddenly looking into the face of Jesus as he stood before them.
The hope we have is not a baseless optimism. It is not a strong desire for something better. It is not a fingers-crossed wish that is sent out into the universe. The hope we have was secured on Easter morning in an empty grave and a risen Savior.
I wish I could tell you that this hope makes all the uncertainties disappear. It doesn’t.
But what it does, is give meaning and purpose in the uncertainty. It gives clarity to the blurriness of the future. It gives perspective to today (whatever day it is!).
As someone who has lived in this space now for quite some time, here is some of my best (and totally unsolicited) advice:
– Mourn the losses. In the same way that the beauty of Easter Sunday did not make the realities of Good Friday any less horrifying, the beautiful hope that we cling to, does not make the losses we have experienced any less real. Right now it’s the loss of time with people we love, work, school, graduation, prom, money, routine, trips.
– Get comfortable in the discomfort. Lean into the unknown things and prepare to see some pretty crazy growth in your life. We don’t do much growing when we are sedentary. It is when we are pushed outside our normal limits that beautiful change comes about.
– Live fully in each and every moment that you are given. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Listen to the beating sounds of the rain as it hits the roof. Take in the beauty of the spring that is coming to life all around you. Play games. Laugh at yourself. Eat and savor good food. Breathe.
– Be grateful. Even if it is just for the breath that you still hold in your lungs, find gratitude in something.
I don’t know what loss you are mourning today, but I am praying that even in your losses and the uncertainties of the coming months you can cling to the certainty of the hope that Jesus gave each of us the day he walked out of that grave.
Happy Easter friends.
We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children. We were given this hope when we were saved (if we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently).Romans 8:24-25