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Easter promise – Easter joy

April 23, 2011 No Comment

by Thomas Kruesel

The assignment for this article couldn’t have come at a worse time. And the ASAP deadline didn’t help. “At least,” I told myself, “I have a clear deadline!”

The request arrived early in Lent, at the start of a week that included two funerals, a Church Council retreat, a two-day trip to Victoria to see a medical specialist, and close on the heels of a difficult anniversary in my life. As I prayed and struggled with what to write, I realized God was calling me to invite you into my thoughts and meditations over the last few days. I do this hoping God will give you the same comfort and encouragement He has given me.

Let’s start with the week’s first funeral. It was for a long-time member of our congregation, a quiet, gentle man who enjoyed gardening.  In good health and active all his life, he was working in his yard one day and went into the shed to find a tool. He never came out. In that moment he was gone. It was his heart, and his death was a shock to everyone who knew him. There was no warning. He wasn’t under doctor’s care. He didn’t even have time to start toward the house to call for help. In an instant, he was gone.

His passing drove home the message of the results of sin in the lives of God’s people—not necessarily specific sins this individual had committed in his life, although I know there were those to consider. Scripture tells us, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all have sinned…” (Rom. 5:12). And death is no respecter of person, race, gender, economic class…or age. It can come at any time, and is not required to call ahead.

The anniversary I alluded to earlier was the anniversary our son’s death—at that point our only child—shortly before his second birthday, twenty years ago.  The death of our church member in many ways reminded me of our son’s death. Although they were separated by decades in age, their deaths were very similar. Unexpected. A tremendous shock. Arriving near the start of Lent. In the middle of a busy life. Yet, as anyone who suffered through a similar experience can attest, when death visits close to home, your world comes to a screeching halt and then collapses around you. I confess that the death of my son created a spiritual struggle in my life the likes of which I had never experienced. I questioned my faith. I was angry. I was hurt. I was wondering.

In God’s Easter promise I am assured that death is no longer the end

God in his loving-kindness used that time—and this article—to remind me that although I like to think I am in charge of my life, this is just an illusion. While I plan and prepare, and run from appointment to appointment thinking I have everything taken care of, I can forget how little control I have. Life is so fragile. We forget that we all have a deadline. We don’t know exactly when that time will come, but whether it’s at the end of time, or at the end of our time, our life on earth will end.  We can thank God that this fragile life is held in the powerful, loving hands of the Almighty God who created all things; the hands of the God who reigns on high and orders all things with our good in mind. We see those hands, torn and bleeding, nailed to a cross, when our Lord suffered and died in our place that we may have forgiveness of sins, peace and eternal life.

Jesus’ resurrection that first Easter Sunday proclaims His victory over death for us. It is through faith in this promise that God gives us the Easter joy we need to face the darkest times in our lives. His ultimate promise gives us joy even in the face of death when we remember Jesus’ words, “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3).

I have experienced God’s loving hands, carrying me when I could no longer go on, and felt the certain hope I have that He will never let me down, bringing me through my pain, struggles and doubts. In God’s Easter promise I am assured that death is no longer the end, but the beginning of life everlasting. I know that because God is faithful, He will keep His promise of a joyful reunion with His people around the heavenly throne. The same promises He makes to me, He makes to all His children. How clear is the Word of our risen Lord, who says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). May God continually fill you with this Easter joy as you cling to His Easter promise.

Rev. Thomas Kruesel is pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Campbell River, B.C. and serves as third vice-president of Lutheran Church–Canada.

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