Coping through difficult days

Published 5:07 am Thursday, July 21, 2016

We have had some very difficult days lately. I know that has always been the case, but lately it seems we have had more than our share of violent and wrenching moments.

Shootings involving police officers and members of the African-American community, police being murdered while doing their jobs, a terrorist attack in Nice leaves many dead and hundreds injured.

It’s getting to the point where you are hesitant to pick up the paper or turn on the TV or the computer, afraid of what you are going to hear next.

Coupled with that is the angry rhetoric we see in the midst of a presidential campaign, especially now that we are in the middle of the party conventions. Added to that is all the heat on social media: It seems like someone is picking a fight with someone else as the language gets more hostile and belligerent and unyielding.

In the midst of all that, I went online for some relief.

For me, it was hearing a beautiful rendition of a new hymn that has now become a nice touchstone with God’s healing Spirit. It is a Tanzanian piece called “Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia.” It goes:

Christ has arisen, alleluia,

Rejoice and praise him, alleluia,

For our redeemer burst from the tomb,

Even from death, dispelling its gloom.

I guess that sounds to some folks like another preacher sticking his head in the sand with all the death and destruction around them. Maybe. But I like to think of this song as the proclaimer of another reality, a deeper reality: Death has its way, in our worlds, in our lives, with Jesus. But it is not the ultimate way.

Go spread the news: He’s not in the grave,

He has arisen this world to save;

Jesus’ redeeming labors are done.

Even the battle with sin is won.

It’s a strange time of year for an Easter tune. But it is never a strange time of year for an Easter tune. Every Sunday we gather to remember our Lord’s resurrection. Life comes and goes, death comes with what seems to be an inexorable movement. But God has the last word, and that word is always resurrection.

Think of the times in your life when it seemed that everything was dry and deadly. And then from out of nowhere hope emerged. It emerged through someone’s presence, a word beyond yourself, a thought that gave you peace.

In these tough, violent days, let’s remember that it is still that way.

Christ has arisen, and he raises us, too, from all the deaths we experience.

Rev. Dr. Tom Robinson is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. His email address is