Easter changes everything. The resurrection of Jesus Christ established historical precedent. It also provided immense ramifications for his believers: not only a new and wonderful life after death but an abundant life right now. His gift of the Holy Spirit provides a measure of that same resurrection power in our own lives – power to live victoriously in spite of the troubles we face.
While this is true, it doesn’t always seem that way, does it? We look around and see the world in disarray, hurting and despair wherever we turn. Everything seems in a state of decay, slowing dying. Even our scientists observe that all things are bent toward entropic deterioration and decay. Whether we’re faced with crushing pain or a deep sadness over our lot in life, or whether we’re facing the pain of disease that ravishes our body, it’s sometimes hard to think that things are going to get better. It seems that we, along with the whole world, groan for resurrection. (Romans 8:19)
It looked that way on the Friday Jesus was crucified. All hopes and dreams were dashed. Jubilation was replaced by deep sorrow. Confidence lost out to fear. It was the darkest hour of all time. That was Friday. But Sunday was coming! Sunday would (and did) change everything. Sunday brought the resurrection, new life, restored hope, and renewed faith. When things looked like they could not get any worse, they suddenly became miraculously better – much better!
“The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth, right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:22) Did you catch the comparison? The excruciating pains of childbirth are real but they are temporary. Temporary pain is exchanged for the joy of new life! We understand that in the hospital labor room. But can you see this truth in the labor room of your present pains, your current sorrow, and your very real disappointments? As dark and terrifying as they seem, they are about to give birth to new light and new life, if Jesus is at work. Temporary suffering, even if it is for a lifetime, is not forever. All things will be made new. Just as the first two chapters of the bible speak to the creation of heaven and earth, the last two chapters speak of the new heaven and earth. And here we are in the middle of that magnificent story of God’s redeeming love. The resurrection power of God takes us from the pains of childbirth to the miracle of new life. We experience that restoration “on earth – as it is in heaven” when we allow God’s Spirit to renew us in the midst of our present trial.
How does thinking about your current struggles change when you consider them like the temporary pains of childbirth, about to give birth to a new, more abundant and victorious life? A life that may be “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. . . Death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-12
LIFE is at work in you. New life in the presence of death and decay, joyful hope in the presence of current sorrows, victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. This is the abundant life Jesus offers to each of us. It’s yours, and mine, for the believing and receiving.
I don’t know about you, but I’m trading my sorrows for the joy of the Lord.