Three Easters ago we lost our first baby, our Cadence, to a miscarriage. That quiet Easter passed with pain paired with peace. Because peace is not the absence of pain. Nor is joy the absence of pain. And neither means we have all the answers or understand all the “whys” that press into our minds.
We know that someday our peace will be made complete in Jesus without the presence of pain. But we know not the day or time. And some days hanging on to that future hope is hard.
Three years ago, the Easter Lily sitting on our antique buffet stood as a reminder. An dear couple from church brought the lily to us along with food, and the whispered promise of hope: not every Easter will be like this. They shared our pain, having walked through it themselves.
And the following year, Rebekah’s due date fell on Easter like the unfolding of God’s hope and promise. Sometimes it feels darkest right before the light breaks through.
When the stone was rolled in front of Jesus’ tomb and sealed up tight–despair and questions surely followed his disciples into hiding. Thomas–a man historically known for his doubts, was probably not the only one wondering, thinking back over Jesus’ last teaching, and searching for that ray of hope.
Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. – Psalm 22:16-18
And when word came that Jesus was alive? God fulfilled a promise from generations before that stretches out to all generations. God’s plan unfurled in ways they could not have predicted or planed.
Posterity will serve him, future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it! – Psalm 22:30-31
I think of that this year too. We sit on the brink of so much continued uncertainty. Not sure what will come, but hanging onto peace regardless of the outcome. Rebekah saw a chocolate cross the other day. I told her it was a cross. A word she quickly added to her growing vocabulary. It feels weird to look at cross jewelry and chocolate crosses and at the same time think of the rough wood digging bloody splinters into Jesus’ back.
Yesterday she saw her Jesus Storybook Bible open to the crucifixion chapter. Excited to use her new word, she pointed and exclaimed “Mama read cross story!” She attentively listened as I read the whole story. Her face growing serious. After all, it was far from a cross of chocolate that Jesus carried on his back, hung on, and died.
At the end of the story we talked about it more. She kept nodding and acting like she understood these difficult, almost incomprehensible truths of God’s love. But maybe it is easier for a child to understand God’s love than it is for us sometimes. In a voice quite serious and seemingly full of comprehension she looked at me and said “Jesus died on a cross.”
Easter is the day so much light broke into the world. The day we celebrate with songs of joy, brightly colored eggs, bonnets, ham, and chocolate crosses. I think we so often fill this day with excitement and distractions, we forget.
May we take time today to reflect. Jesus’ victory over sin and death wasn’t free. The cost was steep. The day was dark. Because sometimes life is darkest before God’s light breaks through.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. – Psalm 16:8-11