Sun., Apr. 1, 2018
Romans 15:13 – So I pray for you Gentiles that God who gives you hope will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. I pray that God will help you overflow with hope in him through the Holy Spirit’s power within you.
Since the first of the year, I have experienced a fair bit of change. Some of these changes were initiated by me. With some of the other changes, I have had less control. I feel we choose whether to embody change for a positive application or allow change to overwhelm us.
I have tried to embrace each change with a sense of gratitude. When I focus daily on some little piece of my life in which I am grateful, the changes seem more manageable.
There are various ways I have been acknowledging gratitude in my life. I plan to share these in upcoming days. Yet, I have been wanting to capture daily gratitude in a more tangible way through this blog. Today, I start this then on Easter Sunday – a day that should be rooted in gratitude for what God has done for us.
One word I would use to summarize Easter would be hope. For me, a main theme of the empty tomb on Easter morning is that death does not have the last word. Hope does. No matter what challenges we might be experiencing, the hope of the empty tomb says there is something beyond this world. Our earthly lives are but a mere appetizer to something beyond what we know today. This encourages me to move beyond the sadness, disappointment and hurt in this world and to look at what lies ahead.
This message of hope has been at the forefront of my thought process the last several days. Rick and I have enjoyed having our oldest two grandsons, Braeden (15) and Bryce (14), with us for several days. Their buddy Jordan joined us for a couple of these days. We have been thrilled to have them with us. Yet, we are also keenly aware the boys are going through possibly their toughest days. Recently, their Dad passed away from cancer. The boys came to our house right after the funeral.
Rick and I have lost all four of our parents. Losing parents who have lived full lives is very different from losing a parent as a teenager. We are very aware that we do not and cannot understand our grandson’s emotions and feelings. We see our role as simply being a soft place for them to be.
So, we let them sleep late. We did rather mundane things like hit golf balls, go hiking and take them to a trampoline park. They rode bikes, ate ridiculous amounts of candy, played basketball and threw around the football with Grandpa. Like most teenagers, they kept their cell phones close at hand.
On Thursday evening, Rick and I were part of a Maundy Thursday service. Rick portrayed a confused and questioning Peter. After worship, we sat in the car with our eldest grandsons. Rick spoke of the emotions he felt after his eldest son was killed. He witnessed to how faith has sustained him nearly every day of the last 18 years. We desire for Braeden and Bryce to discover their own faith. And we pray our lives are a small witness to the hope we find in something beyond this world and how this sustains us in the dark valleys of our lives.
For me, the message of Easter is this: when we experience death, disappointment and loss in our lives, fear does not have to take over. The empty tomb gives us hope that even in our darkest moments, every day is Easter day. Today, I am very grateful for this.
Risen Savior – thank you for the profound gift of hope. In the glorious empty tomb, may we not allow fear, disappointment and loss to have more presence in our lives than hope. For this, may we be grateful. Amen.
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