My Faith

Still Finding Hope in Easter

Maybe by now, you’re used to quarantine. Maybe it’s a bit of a roller coaster, with good days and bad days. Or maybe you’re still pretty shell-shocked. Regardless, it’s safe to say that this is an Easter unlike any we have ever experienced.

Our world is collectively mourning: loss of life, loss of connectedness, stability, jobs, etc. Our freedom seems stripped from us, now more than ever. Our hope in a brighter future seems dimmer. And our ability to laugh and celebrate when we’re so scattered seems hindered.

Yet… we’re about to celebrate Easter Sunday, a day of immense joy. As Christians, we’re supposed to be celebrating when Sunday rolls around. But how do we rejoice amid so much suffering? How do we find hope in Christ’s Resurrection when our world seems so hopeless?

An Easter People

During a visit to Croatia in 1994, St. John Paul II famously stated, “Do not abandon yourself to despair. We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song.” Again in 1986, he referenced these words, prefacing it with the following clarification that I think sheds light on our situation:

“We do not pretend that life is all beauty. We are aware of darkness and sin, of poverty and pain. But we know Jesus has conquered sin and passed through his own pain to the glory of the Resurrection. And we live in the light of his Paschal Mystery – the mystery of his Death and Resurrection.”

To celebrate and live as “Easter people” does not mean that we ignore suffering or pretend that it doesn’t affect us. Rather, suffering is necessary to the rejoicing, because it is through the very transformation of this suffering that the joy becomes meaningful, so unlike anything the world has known. Easter cannot exist if not in the context of great suffering.

After all, the Apostles spent their Good Friday and Holy Saturday much like ours: scattered in their homes, afraid, and facing many unknowns. Easter takes on such meaning because of this suffering, not in spite of it. Christ transformed their fear and sorrow into rejoicing, even when joy seemed the most impossible.

Emulating Jesus

How can we rejoice in these circumstances? Well, we need to look no further than our Lord. How could Jesus have joy during His Passion? How could He still praise God? How could He look Peter in the face, acknowledging his upcoming betrayal, and still tell him that He was praying for Peter, that He had hope in him? How could He love His persecutors and forgive them? Jesus continued to praise God, to persevere with firm hope, and to show love even to those who crucified Him.

He had three keys to joy:
First, He had hope. Jesus demonstrates hope for His Resurrection from His Agony to His last breath, hope that His pain was not in vain. He endured every step of Good Friday knowing that it would all be glorified and transformed by Easter Sunday.

Next, He had confidence in God’s perfect love. He trusted that whatever God allowed Him to endure, good or bad, was for His glory. He knew that God would not abandon Him, that God would not let His cries go unheard. Therefore, He could abandon Himself completely into the hands of the Father. Like the hymn “O God Beyond All Praising” sings, “whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill, we’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless You still.” Jesus demonstrated this attitude of continual praise, with unconditional acceptance of every moment as a gift from God.

Lastly, Jesus survived His Passion with joy because He was enduring out of love for another. There is “no greater gift,” He tells us (John 15:13). We, too, can enter into this gift during Easter. Every day that we stay at home out of love for our community, we can find joy like Jesus’. Every moment we care for someone who is sick or work on the front lines or in essential services, we can offer our sacrifice for another. What greater reason for joy is there than this, to join Christ Himself in offering our lives out of love for another? This is heroic virtue in action.

The Final Victory

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 says, “We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope…” It’s important to note that Easter Sunday means one very important practical detail: death is not the end.

If Jesus rose from the tomb, He has conquered death. And if He has power over death, He can raise us to eternal life with Him. In other words, if we celebrate Easter Sunday, we celebrate that our death is just the beginning of happiness forever with God. Therefore, we don’t need to grieve like those without hope. Even if the worst happens to us and to those we love, it is not the end. We can hope in an everlasting life even more fulfilling than all the joys we’ve known on Earth.

In the words of St. Therese of Lisieux, “The world is your ship and not your home.” We live not for this world, but for what is unseen. What is seen, 2 Corinthians 4:18 reminds us, is passing, “but the things which are not seen are eternal.” What we see right now is scary, but Christ’s Resurrection reminds us that there is so much more to our lives than this present reality and its sorrows.

Lastly, God loves you. You are His beloved son or daughter. As such, He does not seek your ruin. He will not let this trial overcome you. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). If Jesus is alive and breathing in us, His Body, this world cannot overcome us. Rather, He has overcome this world: its suffering, its pains, its illnesses, and its fears.

Christian, take heart and rejoice! No matter what tomorrow holds, Christ has won this battle for us.

Photo by unsplash-logoNazym Jumadilova

About the Author

Faith Noah

Howdy, I'm Faith and I'm an avid fan of chocolate chip cookies, golden retrievers, and St. John Paul II. I enjoy spending time outside (kayaking, climbing, biking, you name it!). I nerd out on neuroscience, bioethics, and anything related to NCIS or the MCU. But at the end of the day, you'll find me either engaging in sugar-induced fits of hyperactivity or having a deep stimulating theological discussion--one extreme or the other. Fun fact: my whole name (together) is in the Bible. Hebrews 11:7. No big deal.

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