Walking Our Faith: Here’s hope

If you’re like 99% of us the week leading up to Easter might first conjure up thoughts of chocolate bunnies, colorful hats, roast leg of lamb or spiral cut ham, or Home Depot commercials urging us to consider what we’re going to plant in our spring gardens.

If on the other hand your child is at Saint Jude’s Cancer Research Hospital or if you are one of the elderly or poor who remain in Ukraine out of choice or no choice, or if you suffer from chronic pain either physical or mental, your life may more closely resemble what this coming Holy Week is all about.

Next Sunday we will celebrate the triumphant resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ and for that moment all was well with the world.

But as with most triumphs, the road leading to the pinnacle first traverses through the darkest valleys, it is an act of courage to continue forward when things look bleakest.

I believe with all my heart that although this coming week is one whose milestones we observe each year no two years of our experience will be the same, because each year we are different and face different challenges. That is why it is dearly important to pay attention this week, as we walk these last miles with Jesus Christ as he travels from the last supper through his trial and scourging and crucifixion on the cross.

We must bear witness to each of these events and experience them with Christ not because we have forgotten them from one year to the next, but because we will understand them more clearly considering our own struggles and pain or which a loved one experienced.

If we pay attention in this way, we will not only deepen our faith we will deepen our love for God, ‘who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son’. Those are words from the most famous and often repeated verse in the Gospels, (John3:16). I first learned them as a child in Sunday school.

But if we are truly paying attention, especially when we are in pain, those words will not be a cliché or hackneyed expression but will ring true more fully amid our pain.

If you find yourself struggling this week, if you find yourself in emotional or physical pain or the helpless observer of a loved one’s pain, I encourage you to find a moment to close your eyes and speak to God from your heart. To bring your burden to the foot of the cross and leave it there in God’s care.

Before you make your annual visit to Easter Sunday service, come to one of the church services this week. They are more contemplative, filled with perhaps the solace you are seeking. If all the rituals seem unfamiliar, it’s okay. Come, sit in the back pew, and just pray. God hears your prayer.

This is the most holy week in the Christian calendar not because of Easter bunnies or spring flowers but because this is the week when we see more clearly than at any other time, that God came to earth to experience for himself the deepest physical and emotional pains that humans will ever know so that he could be one with us and in his humanity reveal to us that his love is stronger than life or death.

God’s love for you and me and all of us never waivers and knows no limits. I pray that this week you will experience that love for yourself.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

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