WE, TOO, SHALL RISE 4-12-20

We, Too, Shall Rise!

April 12, 2020

This has indeed been the most unusual Easter my generation has experienced, since it has been mandated by both the government and the religious officials that NO services are to be held in our churches.  No gathering together in person in our sanctuaries.  No hymns to be sung, prayers to be offered in unison, or messages of hope to be preached within their walls.  Yes, online worship is allowed, but somehow it just isn’t the same as physically gathering together, our bodies and spirits under one roof, encouraging each other and sharing our joys and griefs.  We feel trapped in our homes, searching for answers to the troubles facing the world today because of COVID-19 - illness, death, financial struggles, and isolation.  The future seems uncertain, and the hope of Easter all but forgotten.

Jesus’ disciples felt the same way on Holy Saturday.  Their Messiah, Savior, and King was lying in a grave.  They had forgotten his answer to the Jewish leaders that demanded to know by what authority he threw the moneychangers out of the temple, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” (John 2:19).    Or when he told them that his sign to their generation would be the sign of Jonah (Luke 11:29), who was in the belly of the fish for three days.  It was not until after he had risen from the dead that they remembered (John 2:22).  Remembered that he had predicted not only his death, but his resurrection.  They wanted so badly to prevent his death, to keep him as he was, that they did not see that the best was yet to come. 

We, also, struggle to keep things as they were.  We resist moving forward, we fear change, we forget God’s promises.  Anxiety gets the better of us when anything threatens the lives we try so hard to protect.  Our health, our jobs, our financial security, our homes, our relationships, our churches.  We want them to continue as they were, and fear of what lies ahead causes us far more emotional and mental stress than our Lord wants us to have.  For he has given us promise after promise to reassure us that since he did indeed rise from the dead on that first Easter morning, we, too, shall rise.  Not only from death, but from the troubles of this world.  Not that we won’t ever endure troubles, for we surely will, but that we will overcome them, even our current one.  Jesus said to his disciples before he was arrested, “A time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home.  You will leave me all alone.  Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.  I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:32-33).  And now we, like the disciples, are in our own homes.  But our Lord is still with us.  Our Lord who defeated the world, defeated death, and crushed the head of Satan under his feet (Genesis 3:15).  Surely the Almighty Son of God can also defeat a virus, or anything else that our enemy might try to use in his final years as he futilely attempts to destroy the faith and hope of God’s people.  God questioned Jeremiah by saying, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?”  (Jeremiah 32:27), and Jeremiah confessed, “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for you.”  (vs. 17).

We need to remind ourselves that God is still in control, that Jesus still rose from the dead, and that the Holy Spirit still gives us a spirit of power and of love, and not one of fear.  (2 Timothy 1:7).  There is nothing that can stop the love of Christ, nothing that can stand in his way, nothing that will keep him from fulfilling every one of his promises to us, promises that, like him, are the “same yesterday and today and forever.”  (Hebrews 13:8). 

So as we huddle in our homes, wondering how and when this will end, we need only turn to God’s Word.  This is not the end of life as we know it, it is only a brief period in which we are being prompted by the Spirit to immerse ourselves in Scripture, in prayer, in finding new ways to minister to the needs of others, and in strengthening our courage, our determination to serve, our hope in Christ, and our joy in the Lord.  So that we can be like the disciples who were confused, discouraged, and fearful at first, but later re-emerged powered by the Holy Spirit to such an extent that they no longer feared anything, not even death itself, and spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ far and wide, with great passion and joy.  Jesus rose from the grave, the disciples rose to their calling, and we, too, shall rise with renewed strength here, and one day to eternal life as well.  Amen.

VIDEO:  "I Will Rise"  (Chris Tomlin)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bms0ZiM_KG0