n., An issue of water from the earth; a spring; a fountain. v.intr., To rise to the surface, ready to flow; to rise or surge from an inner source., To pour forth. adj., In a satisfactory condition; right or proper. interj., Used to introduce a remark, resume a narrative, or fill a pause during conversation; used to express

Tuesday, March 09, 2004  

Digging into my e-mail archives again, I came to the reflection below, which I shared at a prayer meeting around Easter two years ago. What I wrote in it has been coming back to me with a great deal of force lately, though, because I've been watching what I wrote about take place in the lives of a family I dearly love as they grieve the loss of their brother/son, who died after being hit by a car last week. Their grief and their suffering will not end with with the last days of Lent and the dawning of next month's Easter Sunday, so what will Easter mean...

Lenten reflection on Easter suffering

I didn't give up anything for Lent this year. Nor did I take anything on.

The reason is probably obvious to most of you--I'd been through enough already;
I was finally finishing up my second and last round of radiation treatment for Hodgkin's Disease.

I was looking forward to rest, recovery, relief.

I was not prepared to encounter the most difficult Lenten season of my life, not just physically (by a long shot), but emotionally and spiritually as well.

Somewhere in the thick of it, I asked my parents to pray with me, and when they'd finished, my Dad said that he'd had an image of my hand, and in my hand were various things--my health, for one. And God was taking those things, taking them so that all that was left was my open, empty hand. And that was as far as he could see. That was my Lent.

Having talked with various people, I know that I am not the only person who experienced this Lent as being particularly draining. I am not the only one who was looking to Easter with greater-than-usual anticipation, who saw it as, among other things, somehow an end to the suffering of this Lent.

Easter has indeed been Easter for me--a time to rejoice in the truth that my Redeemer lives!

But, as I alluded to earlier, my hand is, in an earthly way, just as empty as it was before Easter--I still have a long road to recovery; the struggles that I experienced during Lent are not over. But this sharing came together in a realization that I had this Easter week:

As we are here on earth, Easter is not about an end to suffering.

At Easter the disciples' suffering had only just begun.

Easter is not about an end to suffering;

it's about the transformation of suffering.

Under the law, suffering was the price of sin and the mark of a sinner. If you want evidence, just read Deuteronomy 28--the curses for disobeying the law.

In His death and resurrection, Christ broke the chains of death and sin, but He did not put an end to suffering. He did not leap from the tomb to conquer Rome and put an end to pain.

What did He do?

He took suffering and transformed it from the mark of a sinner into love itself.

This is the earthly promise of Easter--not that our suffering here is over, but rather that if we are willing to stretch out our arms upon the cross rather than curl in on ourselves in the face of pain, His love will spring forth from us as new life.

It is upon this tree that the fruit of the Spirit is borne.
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness.
Gentleness. and Self-control.

It was through this Lent and Easter that I began to understand that these are not emotions. They transcend emotion as the kingdom of God transcends the earth on which we stand. So that with Paul we can say that we are "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing..."

How amazing to experience crying out to the heavens, "I HURT," yet simultaneously find incredible joy in the truth that My Redeemer Lives and I, with my own eyes, will see Him!

Easter does not end in that paradox, though, for I am also holding onto the ultimate Easter promise:

That, one day, I, with John, will hear the Voice from the throne say, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

There will be no more Death. or Mourning. or Crying. or Pain.

For the old order of things has passed away..."

And He will make all things new.

posted by Heidi | 9.3.04

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