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Easter means hope

Empty tomb
Cave at sundown. |

The other day I headed into the grocery store and ran into one of my favorite workers that I used to have regular conversations with. He was stocking food when we recognized each other, and it was like a mini-reunion. It had been quite a while since we talked, and you could say a few things have been going on in the world since we last had a deep chat.

Let’s see, we’ve had a pandemic, an economic crisis, a mental health crisis, racial tensions and protests, a highly polarizing presidential election, record-breaking inflation, and now the outbreak of war in Ukraine that has put the West on edge of the worst confrontation with Russia in decades. We talked about how crazy the last two years have been, how it has been like a trip through Jumanji, and you worry about what is coming next.

We speculated on different solutions for all the world’s problems. Yet, what stuck in my mind the most from this conversation was the sense of helplessness and hopelessness that can easily take over the lens through which we view this life and the world around us. But then I got to share with my friend at the grocery store that there is an answer to all our problems, there is peace, joy, hope and help that can be found, and it is found in one event, one weekend, in one word: Easter.

For most of us, Easter is barely a blip in our calendar, it is usually a time to get together with family, get dressed up, go out to eat, and, just maybe, go to church. But if we truly grasp the meaning and the message of what Easter is about, it should change everything. It should change how we view what really matters in life, it should change our perspective on how we face death and the loss of loved ones, it should change how we view evil and suffering, it should change how we view ourselves, how we view God and how we view history.

Easter means that there is a God, a God for whom and with whom we were made to have relationship, without which we are empty inside and incomplete. Easter means that the light of life triumphs over the shadow of death, it means good defeats evil, God beats Satan. As the late Billy Graham used to say, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible, and everything is going to be alright.” Easter means that there is hope, not just a new hope, but a living one.

Does this hope live in you today?

We struggle to find solutions to the many problems we face. The world is a mess, we are a mess, and we have a habit of making messes. The Bible says that the real problem in our society, the real problem in us is something called sin. As one commercial said, “We love stuff,” and it's true we do. We just often love the wrong stuff. We do not love our Maker.

From the dawn of time, we have chosen the Frank Sinatra mantra and tried to do it our way. We told God we did not need or want Him, and we built a wall bigger than the Great Wall of China or the one that used to stand in Berlin. Sin separates us from our Creator because while He is loving, He is also Holy and Just. How could the movie we call history have gone? God could have washed His hands and with us, He could have given the world over to death, hell, and destruction with no alternative. But He didn’t. Before time began, He arranged a rescue plan. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His Only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Easter means that God cares about us. God loves you today regardless of whether you will ever love Him back or accept Him.

Easter means that our hearts can be full of peace, love, joy and hope. It means that we don’t have to do things the same way we did before. We don’t have to just survive, we can thrive. It means that we can have hope for tomorrow, not because we know what tomorrow holds but because we can know who holds tomorrow. You may have heard about Him, you may even believe certain things about Him, but do you really know Him?

Hope has a name, and his name is Jesus, the Christ. There is a reason that Jesus of Nazareth remains the most controversial, influential, recognizable figure of all time. If Jesus was a silly bedtime story to help us all feel good about the cold realities of life, why did the proclaimers of the message of Easter willingly die for declaring that Jesus was alive? Something happened on Easter morning over 2,000 years ago that changed cowards into martyrs and that something that happened can change your life, if you would be willing to believe and receive.

Easter is not about getting religious; it is about having a life changing relationship with the living God. Easter leads all of us to ask ourselves one question: Where do you get your hope?

Pastor Stephen Mitchell is the senior pastor at Trinity Bible Church in Severna Park, Maryland. He is also the author of Taking A Stand In Our Dying Land and has spoken in various churches and retreats.

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