These days may seem especially troubling with our economy out of kilter, disaster and disease devastating people across our globe, and most of the world worried with war and its rumors. But the topsy-turvy turbulence affecting our lives today is merely the launching pad for a radical renewal of hope and faith in the lives of Christians.
Perhaps it has never occurred to you, but living with ease and comfort does little to promote a life of faith. In fact, without trouble of some kind, the practical value of the Christian life is nearly nonexistent, and is not much more than merely theoretical. And being so, generally becomes fruitful only in producing a weedy harvest of the fruits of complacency.
Yet when we as Christians find ourselves not only unsettled but uprooted from those things on which we have become dependent, we find that we have to become more than a superficial people superficially discussing spirituality, but must rediscover what it really is that we are and what really makes us so.
Thus, what we celebrate this Sunday is perhaps one of the two most powerful events in human history. Whether one refers to it as Easter or as Resurrection Sunday, the magnitude of the historical fact of Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead is at the very core of who we are. On the one hand, the dying of our Savior on the cross for your and my sins removes from us the weight and horror of our guilt if and when we truly place our faith in Him. But it is by His bodily resurrection that we are delivered. In other words, if it is through Jesus’ work on the cross that we are saved, it is through His being raised from the dead that we find the purpose of His dying: eternal life.
Eternal life is not, contrary to the opinions of some, simply an endless extension of life as we know it. Who, after all, would want an endless number of days continuing with the woes that weigh heavy upon us now? No, the kind of eternal life that John 3:16 characterizes is an endless delight of fellowshipping with God, with the fruits of joy, peace, and contentment ripening in abundance in the orchards of our hearts.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV).
While the world continues in its wanton resolution to outsmart God, depriving itself of the very peace that it so desperately needs and relinquishing the hope for which people all over are craving, Christians have been “birthed” spiritually into a “living hope”, secured for us by the death and resurrection of God’s own Son Who went before us to show to us His absolute victory over that thing we dread most: death.
So while the world continues to search for answers, looking for solutions in manmade stratagems and policies, you and I through faith in Jesus can live joyfully and victoriously knowing that “through faith we are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5 NIV).
Our purpose and power as Believers today is incredible. We live in troubled times but we have been permitted the joy of being born into them so that God’s power and love might be demonstrated more dramatically through us, reaping a harvest of glory for Him. But it also broadcasts the testimony of the reality of God’s grace, shining like a beacon in what would otherwise be dark times. Here’s a riddle for you: When is a guiding light most visible to searching eyes? Answer: When all else is dark.
“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV).
Christians often talk about trusting in God for salvation. Wonderful! This testimony is what we really are all about. But keep in mind that such trust, if it is genuine, is going to somehow be connected to not only the deeply spiritual subject of the afterlife, but also to the business of everyday living. If God can handle your soul for eternity, can’t He also handle your joblessness right now? Or your illness? Or your finances? Or your relationships with family members?
Sometimes our choices show that maybe we do not trust God as much as we would like to think we do. But remember the promise you have in Jesus Christ. His resurrection is a guarantee that whatever tragedy comes your way in life can never ultimately conquer: there is yet a glorious rising that awaits you if you trust and obey God faithfully with your choices, seeking His “kingdom and His righteousness” (see Matthew 6:33).
Yes, problems and troubles will come to you. But you can conquer if you let God help you navigate life. Yes, painful trials will grieve you. But you will conquer if you believe that God’s love really has its relentless grip on you. And yes, plenty of tragedies will find you. But you will conquer if you keep your eyes on Him.
“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV).
May your heart swell with thanksgiving and praise as you lay your worries and fears, hurts and trials at the feet of the Risen Lord Jesus.