This morning is Easter. Many of you are getting ready for church. Some of you have new clothes for your kiddos. Some are prepping the holiday lunch. Traditions may be being carried out and you're looking forward to a day of fun memories.
For the first time in my life, I won't be going to church this Easter. I'm wearing sloppy, comfy clothes. I likely won't even be tuning into an Easter sermon as I work to console my 15 day old baby who is fighting for his life and suffering from the pain of open heart surgery, withdrawals from narcotics and fussiness from never having eaten 2 weeks into his eventful little life.
What does hope look like then? What does Easter mean now? Many have been praying for a miracle for our precious son and it appears in many ways that God is granting it. We continue to pray fervently for God to make Caleb whole... but what if he doesn't? Or what about all the families that have gone before us that love Jesus with their whole hearts, have prayed earnestly for a miracle and God DIDN'T grant it? What about those who have had to bury their child?
What does Easter hope look like then?
I've wrested with this question a lot in the last few months. Hope has become my theme. I even had the phrase, "I have HOPE" put on a customized necklace. At first glance, I'm sure many assume that I mean I have "hope" that Caleb will get well enough to come home with us and of course, that is something I hope for, but that's not why I have it dangling around my neck. The hope I have is much deeper and remains regardless of circumstance.
The hope I have is that one day, all this suffering will be gone. Mine. Caleb's. Anyone who has placed their trust in Christ does not have to fear even the darkest circumstances. Does that mean I don't feel the sting of this suffering my child and family is going through? Of course not! I frequently stand at my helpless child's bedside and weep. This stinks. Big time.
Some may become bitter with God and wonder why he would ever allow a tiny baby to go through the insane pain we've watched Caleb endure the last two weeks. He's completely capable of healing him. Why doesn't he just take it all away? I read something from Nancy Guthrie that has helped put this all in perspective a little better for me:
She points out that when we expect God to spare us from the effects of sin (sickness, tragedies, etc.) "we're mistakenly expecting in this age what God has reserved for the next." Am I expecting God to create a "heaven on earth" right now? That thought has been profound for me. I long for heaven for a reason. It's perfect. That's not where I'm at right now and I am expecting the wrong thing from God when I expect him to make the here and now what he has promised us for the future: A world without sin and all the effects it brings is the hope we have to look forward to. In times like this, I am reminded all the more why I want it and what it has to offer.
So I cling to hope, knowing that one day there will be no children born with congenital heart defects that require multiple open heart surgeries. I know there will be no more death. I know there will be no more pain. There will be no more sin and no more effects of sin. Because of what Christ did on the cross, I can celebrate Easter this morning, even though my day may look drastically different than yours and painfully different than what I'm used to. My hope is sure. Jesus died... like for real died. But he was stronger than death and he defeated it. For me. For you. For anyone who believes and will call on his name. Sin (and the effects of it) don't have the final say when Christ is in the picture.
That is glorious hope.
"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." -Romans 8:18-25