Easter is going to look a lot different for many of us this year. If you live in the U.S. or any one of the hundreds of countries now affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, current life stands in stark contrast to what it did weeks or months ago. Each of us is living day by day, not knowing what to expect or when this crisis will end.
Next weekend, we will celebrate the life of a Savior who conquered death. And yet, we are living in a season where death seems to reign supreme.
How do we celebrate Easter in the middle of a pandemic?
We hear daily reports of thousands dying from a disease that seems to have no end to its reach or its spread. Aside from the physical death, many are experiencing the loss of a job, a dream, a plan or a new beginning.
Weddings cancelled or postponed. Trips put on hold. Church services and Bible studies transitioned to an online platform where we stare at each other on a screen instead of embracing.
The weight of it all can feel heavy, can’t it? As we try to see a way forward but are met with an endless fog of uncertainty, it’s difficult to know how to take the next step. How to celebrate. How to rise when we’re crushed with a grief we can’t quite put into words.
As the weather gets warmer and the trees come alive with blooms all over, I take our dog for more walks. We trek around our neighborhood, and I talk to God. I pray for healing. For an end to this disease, for effective treatment and protection.
Yesterday, I turned back toward our house, and it was as though a veil was lifted, just for a moment. A moment where the Spirit brought into perspective everything Jesus went through to give us a life free of the darkness the enemy is trying to cover it with. A life where death does not conquer, and Light wins.
In contrast to our current protocol to stay home and protect the weak, Jesus left his home to save the weak.
He gave up all protection to feel the heaviness of our sin, disease and rejection. While those closest to him left to save themselves, he hung there, exposed. Even Peter, the one who said he’d die for Jesus, decided to save himself in the end.
Think of the lengths you would go to so that someone you love would be protected from this virus. Do you have a mental picture in your head? It doesn’t even compare to the lengths Jesus went to so we could experience abundant life in a world where this virus exists.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
This situation we find ourselves in was never God’s idea, friends. But he invites us to find him in the middle of it. To celebrate the resurrection in spite of it. And to see the cost of the freedom he offers us with fresh eyes.
We may not be able to congregate together this Easter to celebrate our risen King, but we can still be united in mind and purpose. And as we do, I’m remembering these three truths:
Our God redeems what is lost.
Whatever this disease takes away, God will give it back a multitude over. He is a God of redemption. He is a Creator who restores.
Our God uses what the enemy meant for evil for our ultimate good and for his glory.
Even in the middle of all the loss, God is drawing people to himself. People are giving their lives to Jesus. The church body is rising up and taking action in new, unheard of ways.
Our God gives us victory.
It may be hard to see a victorious end to this season right now. But God is already on the other side of it, and he’s leading us through the wilderness.
“See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:19 NIV
Friends, the place we live right now is a land of transition. We are foreigners here, and this crisis is making that truth even more certain. If there’s anything we can know for sure, it’s that God is feels our pain. He endured it. But not one ounce of it will be wasted.
In the same way the disciples reacted with disbelief when Mary ran to tell them the grave was empty, I foresee each of us reacting in disbelief over what God has in store. In the middle of this darkness, behold the light.
It is rising.
When I wrote Shift, I never imagined our world would look this way less than two months after its release. But God knew. And he knew we would need to change our focus to see his presence like never before.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had several people tell me Shift is a timely book for this season. And honestly, I’m humbled and speechless, because only God could do that. If you’re stuck at home and need a bit of encouragement in the midst of the crazy, you can purchase a copy of my book by clicking the image below.