I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve been limping through Lent and toward Easter. I’ve been crawling through most of this year, overwhelmed and worn out, to be honest. Maybe you have, too.
My wife had knee replacement surgery and twice-a-week physical therapy. Because of my efforts to help her mother move from a chair to wheelchair to bed, I strained my back and ended up in twice-a-week physical therapy too, often at the same time—what a picture! We have made the journey to Pennsylvania to help with both of my wife’s parents with emergencies or doctor’s visits.
Then there’s the weight of the world we live in. The current political climate. The injustices in our nation and abroad.
The deep, bitter hardships of close friends. The sadness and loss of those I love dearly. And most recently, the growing coronavirus crisis that has almost completely shut down every aspect of our normal routines. For our safety and to end the spread of this voracious virus, we have been mostly confined to our homes. Anybody getting cabin fever yet or getting a little annoyed by your loved ones?!
I’m willing to bet your life looks much the same as mine. The details may be different, but you’re probably covered in the same piles of this messy life threatening to overwhelm and engulf you.
As Easter approaches, I’m doing my best, from under the weight of all that’s wearing me down, to turn my eyes to Christ. I think of him on the cross, the pinnacle of overwhelmed, worn out, struck down, beaten, bloodied and bruised. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. I think of him with his eyes focused upward, to the ultimate goal. Jesus is a perfect example of what to do in our beaten and bruised state.
First, He asks to have the situation removed, the circumstances changed. He calls out to his Father for another way. I know that request quickly flies from my own lips. I often ask for my lot in life to change, for my hardships to disappear. But Christ also reminds me of the beauty of faithful obedience, even in the midst of unimaginable hardship. He cried out to His Father, and then moved forward as instructed. I pray that I can do the same.
He also exemplifies the greatness of ministering to others even in our own darkness. As he hung on the cross, he reached out to comfort the criminal on the cross next to him. He comforted his own mother and made sure she was cared for. In the depths of his suffering, he still showed compassion and kindness. I pray that I can follow his example.
Among his final words, he prays for those who persecute him. He asks God to forgive them, even while he was still suffering at their hands. That kind of forgiveness is hard for me to grasp, but I pray that I can give it freely as Christ did.
In the middle of my mess, it’s hard for me to see beyond myself and my circumstances, but Christ’s death and resurrection reminds us of so much more. He rose again and conquered death, just 3 days after the cross. The men and women that mourned Him thought that it was all over, that He was gone forever. I think what the disciples must have been going through in those three days. The complete and utter despair at the loss of the one they thought was the Messiah. But Jesus surprised them. He was victorious over the grave and brought them ultimate victory over sin.
This Easter, as I stumble toward that special Sunday, beaten and bruised myself, I’m trying to remember all that Christ went through: That he prayed for the circumstances to change. And so can I. That he ministered to others in the midst of his suffering. And so can I. That he prayed for those who abused him. And so can I. That he rose from the grave, and brought victory and salvation to the world, so that I might have life and hope in the midst of my own suffering.
Yes, it may be a Good Friday world, but Easter is coming! Because of Christ’s sacrifice and victory, I know that no matter how messy my life gets, no matter how much I stumble and crawl, I will be just fine. Jesus has paid it all. In my weakness, he is strong. In his miraculous resurrection, I have hope eternal. And, really, what else do I need?