Moving from Pain to Hope

Holy Week for Christians represents a dramatic movement from pain to hope. We deeply feel and lament the pain Jesus Christ endured for us, but we also feel our personal pain and the world’s pain. Then we rejoice as that pain gives way to the eternal hope that is always available to us through the resurrection — a hope that is not just for ourselves but for the world. We say, “Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!” with a joy that surpasses understanding.

We see both the pain and the hope that Holy Week exemplifies all around us. The pain is everywhere.

We see the continuing open wounds of structural racism, patriarchy, and other forms of oppression exacerbated by the current administration and far too many of our fellow citizens. We see Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and other forms of hatred practiced more virulently and openly than at any time in recent memory. Every day it seems we get new scientific information or data from observing the weather that reinforces the inescapable fact that we are running out of time to avoid the most catastrophic levels of climate change, and that those already most vulnerable in societies around the world will be first and most affected by it. We also see crowd-funding campaigns for people trying to pay for medical procedures or insulin and hear stories of people who died because they couldn’t afford the treatment they needed.

And yet, Easter is a desperately needed reminder every year that pain, loss, and death don’t get the final word. The resurrection of Jesus Christ teaches us that there always is and always will be hope — we do not carry that hope in vain. And that resurrection hope is one we can see mirrored in our lives and current events, if we know where to look.

So even when things seem at their most hopeless, when we feel as Jesus’ disciples and loved ones felt on Good Friday, we remember that hope isn’t just a feeling that comes and goes. Hope is so much more than optimism. It is a decision we make based on what we call faith, and it’s a decision we can and need make each day. Or, as my dear friend, evangelist Tony Campolo, loves to preach, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin!” So Happy Easter to all of you. Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed.

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