There are moments that change everything. One of those moments for our family, was when the doctor told us that our youngest of seven children had cancer.
Just over a year ago, we began this crazy journey. There have been so many adventures, so many people we have met, so many ways in which we have seen God come through.
There have been some hard and dark moments too. Times when nothing was "working out", times we felt alone, and times where we felt like we didn't have what we needed when we needed it.
God's kindnesses are everywhere.
One of those kindnesses is in having what many would call Elijah's "cancerversary" (or, the annual date of his diagnosis) come just before Easter.
To the group of rough-around-the-edges men who had given up their lives to follow Jesus, things looked pretty dark in the days between the cross and the resurrection. They had left everything. And now they felt as though they had lost everything. The hope of Jesus Christ restoring the "kingdom" to Israel had been lost.
And so it is, that some days feel like the day of the crucifixion. We see our hopes fading until they are laid to rest in a quiet tomb.
"This isn't how it was supposed to go!", we cry.
The crucifixion was the death of hope for so many. And following Christ hasn't changed that-it feels many times like we see hopes and dreams die. I have had hope rise in my heart so many times, only to be met with disappointment:
Maybe Elijah won't have the genetic mutation.
Maybe he will have perfect vision in the other eye.
Maybe we will have childcare and the details of my trip worked out before the day I get on a plane.
Those three days between the cross and the resurrection are SO necessary.
In those three days, the disciples felt disillusioned-enough so that they went back to what they had been doing before they met Jesus.
For me, it is in those moments where my "hopes" end in disappointment that I realize my hope was misplaced.
It's easy to do. It's human to do.
I'm like the disciples, waiting for Israel to be restored to power and position. Only I'm waiting for the happy endings and the peace and prosperity that hasn't been promised in this life.
Jesus called his followers to deny themselves, to take up their cross daily, and follow Him.
But the days between the cross and the resurrection were necessary in order that false hopes could be laid to rest. It's difficult and painful to see even false hopes be taken and shown for what they really are. It leaves things dark, still, and quiet.
You're left with the realization that it isn't where you expected to be. It's not going how you thought it would go. It's darker and harder than you thought.
This dark and quiet place is where true hope enters....soft and gentle at first, growing brighter and brighter with each moment. True hope burns strong and steady. It brings with it a new light, which shines upon your situation and shows it for what it really is.
That moment-the awareness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ-that changes every. single. thing.
The ground shaking. The stone, rolled away. Empty tomb. Grave clothes neatly folded.
One of my favorite Veggie Tale songs says:
There is nothing left to fear
Nothing heaven knows
For He died for us to give us life....
And to give us hope He rose.
With Jesus' death on the cross, He canceled our debt of sin, and freed us from the penalty that was meant to be ours. But even at the cross, with sin covered in Christ's blood, we are still left in a world where it doesn't always go the right way.
But in those next three days, in the quiet, dark places, He was at work. He was freeing us from every false hope. He went down into the depths of the darkest, most terrifying enemy-death, and the ultimate separation from the Father's presence.
And in victory, He presented that great enemy as disarmed and defeated. He appeared to the disillusioned men and infused their lives with a power from above, a power that transformed these men into trustworthy messengers, ready to die in this life because of the hope they had for the next one.
And so, the moment we learned of Elijah's cancer changed our life forever. But during this time of year, even that difficult moment is overshadowed by the hope of another. The moment that Jesus conquered death and purchased a hope that cannot be stolen, shaken, or laid to rest.
There may be more dark and hard moments ahead. In fact, I can guarantee that there are because Jesus Himself said, "In this world you will have trouble."
And then He said, "BUT be of good cheer (take heart!). I have overcome the world."
Easter morning has always been one of my absolute favorites. The dark of night gives way to the coming light....and the darkness cannot stop it.
Every Easter sunrise is bursting with the hopeful reminder that His Kingdom is coming in its fullness. Every sorrow will be washed away, all the wrong made right. Even in the dark and quiet moments, He is at work. My heart needs to be reminded that the life to come is just as real, more beautiful, and even more powerful than the disappointment I may face now.
The Light is pushing back the darkness.
So. I may not have all the details of my trip to New York figured out, besides the fact that I need to be on a plane Monday morning.
But what I do know is more important.
HE IS COMING. When Jesus returns, He will set things right, and fulfill the hope that he purchased by conquering death. He is preparing a place for us.
He IS RISEN.
He is risen, indeed!!!!