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Jesus guarantees hope for a brighter future

On the Monday following Easter, a restaurant owner must lay-off three employees that he can no longer afford because of the coronavirus crisis.

On the Monday following Easter, a nurse will leave her husband and three children to work in the ER, praying that her protective gear will shield her and her family from COVID-19.

On the Monday following Easter, a pastor must arrange a funeral for someone who died of complications related to the coronavirus. How does the pastor offer comfort and hope for a family grieving and also fearing they too were infected?

On the Monday following Easter, you must wrestle with the unique challenges of a world caught in the grip of a health and financial crisis unlike anything in recent memory.

If Easter signifies more than bunnies, brightly colored eggs and new clothes then hard questions must be answered. Jesus’ resurrection has to be more than an interesting story celebrated annually.

The coronavirus crisis has dramatically illustrated the need for answers to significant concerns. Where is God when the world is suffering? How does Easter Sunday help us find needed answers and hope when facing significant Monday problems?

The followers of Jesus likely felt the same way as they removed his lifeless body from the cross and laid it in a borrowed tomb.

For three years their lives were based on a promise that offered meaning and purpose. They were preparing for a “new kingdom” and Christ would be their king. Now, they were hiding like frightened rabbits. Confused, grief-stricken and deeply troubled, the disciples faced a day filled with anguish and despair.

Jesus Christ made a noble sacrifice, but the disciples could not understand the meaning of that sacrifice without seeing what happened next. They needed to experience the rest of the story.

Easter changed everything.

“Early on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to see the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, because an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. ’Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen.’” (Parts of Matthew 28:1-6)

When you read the story, you can feel the excitement as the disciples discover their leader alive and well. Again and again we read how they ran, not walked, but ran to find out for themselves. Peter and John ran to the now empty tomb. Mary ran to spread the news.

Clement, a theologian, wrote, “Jesus Christ turns all our sunsets into dawn. Jesus Christ turns our nights into days. Jesus turns our darkness into light.”

Jesus was alive!

The broken dreams were restored as the disciples were filled with renewed courage and hope. Christ was King. The now bold followers of Jesus launched a movement that ultimately changed the world.

Hear the good news! Jesus Christ defeated death and offers eternal life to all who believe.

Today, we face many of the same frustrations and disappointments as the disciples. After many painful sacrifices, they wondered if all hope was lost. We can take comfort in knowing that like the disciples, our suffering is not in vain. Yes, our life often involves disappointments, setbacks and painful sacrifices, but Easter is the promise those disappointments, setbacks and painful sacrifices are never in vain.

For the restaurant owner, critical decisions must be made, but the living Christ gives him the compassion and wisdom to search for and to provide help for his employees.

The nurse still faces dangers within the ER, but friends and strangers bombard her and fellow health workers with meals, home-made masks, cards and other gestures of hope.

The pastor still must face a family in crisis but she calmly reassures the family while at the same time suggests creative and safe ways to honor and remember their loved one.

You can now wake up on Monday morning in the secure knowledge that you will never face the coronavirus alone.

A risen Jesus guarantees much needed hope for a brighter future.

Easter is so much more than just a story. Celebrating Jesus’ resurrection is a testimony of faith offering guidance and courage for Monday decisions. Most of all, Easter is a promise of living hope enabling us to cope with disappointment and tragedy. The coronavirus will someday be a distant memory, but Jesus Christ will always be alive and well.

Bet your eternal life on it.

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.