Easter - a time of hope, of joy, of new clothes and new life and celebrations of faith and family. A wonderful, joyful time of year.
Unless your heart is broken and your emotions are tumbled inside out and upside down.
Unless God feels very far away and promises of new life ring hollow in the chasm that used to be your life.
Easter Sunday five years ago was a blur for me. We had buried our daughter Naomi two days before, on Good Friday. We were still anticipating and planning her memorial service. I was still recovering from major abdominal surgery and looking toward a second by the end of the month. And I would be returning to work soon, another moment to dread.
When Easter dawned, I went through the motions of dressing up, returning to church for the first time since Naomi's death. I worshiped externally, but my soul was in turmoil. I was grief-stricken, confused, and anxious about the future.
That's why Jesus' words on the first Resurrection Sunday resonate with me. The disciples were also grief-stricken, confused, and anxious. Yes, they had seen the empty tomb that morning, but they didn't understand. Why had Jesus died? Where was He now? What was happening? And what would happen to them?
When Jesus finally appeared to them, His first word spoke to all of their fears and sorrows and anxious thoughts...and to mine.
Peace...because Jesus was with them again.
Peace...because God's power was greater than anything on earth, including death.
Peace...because their lives now had new purpose.
Are you in turmoil? Is the promise of life and resurrection ringing hollow to you today? My friend, I want you to have the hope of peace today, resurrection peace.
Peace...because Jesus is alive and present with us everyday, to strengthen and comfort and guide us.
Peace...because in spite of what your circumstances may be screaming about life being chaotic and meaningless, Jesus' resurrection shows that God is in control, His power is greater, and His plan will prevail.
Peace...because your life, even in the pain, has purpose. You may not be able to see it yet - neither could the disciples - but God will make it clear in time.
Easter is ever so much more than spring and new life and colored eggs. It is about an empty cross and an empty tomb. It is about God's power, and Jesus' presence, and our purpose.
And this year, even if your life has been turned upside down, it can be a time of peace.