For many people Easter is a glorious and joyful holiday. The churches are packed, the music is beautiful, the sermons are meaningful, children do their thing (Easter egg hunts, chocolate bunnies, etc.) and festive family get-togethers. It is truly a joyous time of celebration - celebrating Jesus' resurrection from the dead.
At least that is the way it is supposed to be. However, this Easter there is much to be not joyful about. Guess that is the way it has been throughout the two thousand year history of Christianity, but today is our concern. Dickens, describing France in the mid-19th Century, summed it up best in the Tale of Two Cities when he penned the words "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." Is that in any way an appropriate description of America today?
Yes, there is good reason to be discouraged about the times we live in. Some potential ones include: society's anti-god, humanistic world view, the corruption in all governments, including ours, countries going broke, including ours, rampant unemployment, and concerning the mores of society today as Patrick Moynihan so aptly wrote in an essay referring to the morality of our country, we are "Defining Deviancy Down." With impunity we call evil good and good evil, and go merrily on our way.
It's regrettable, but true, that even many of our churches are narcissistically majoring on minors, shooting their wounded, isolating themselves from the market place of ideas and as a result are losing credibility and influence in their communities. So the secular humanistic world view, wins the day, and sails merrily along, uncontested.
There is, however, good news, very good news. He, Jesus, the Christ, lives. We recently experienced a very discouraging experience from a very unexpected source, but in the process God's faithfulness to His own graciously manifested itself. We were listening to the Classic Gospel program and the song, Because He Lives, was sung. The words of the refrain truly came alive to us - "Because He lives I can face tomorrow. Because He lives all fear is gone, Because I know He holds the future and life is worth the living, because he lives." Read the stanzas and see if your heart doesn't nearly burst with joy. It's a truism that our earthly joy and hope is not based upon circumstances or how people regard or treat us, but upon our relationship with God. Easter is a great time to be brutally honest with ourselves and find out where we are with God.
Poor Job never lost faith in spite of some awful circumstances that God allowed to happen in his life, and was still able to say "I know that my Redeemer lives...and after my skin has been destroyed...in my flesh I shall see God." Job 19:25-27. Jesus' resurrection is the bedrock of our Christian faith. The validity of everything else about Christianity revealed to us in the Bible depends on that being a historical fact. It is! It has been proven to be true in spite of being subjected to all sorts of ridicule and hostile research.
God, our Heavenly Father, has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. See I Peter 1:3b. That's the Easter remedy for discouragement, depression, and even suffering. We can praise God with great joy "because He lives." And remember also - God really does love you.
Paul Williams is a retired veterinarian. He and his wife, Pat, lived in Indiana for 41 years, where he practiced. They also lived in Drummond Island, Michigan for eight years and in Marietta for the last seven years. Thoughts of Faith is a weekly column written by various ministers and lay people. To participate call 376-5446.