Few things leave me more surprised than meeting people who still have joy in the midst of tragedy. Tragedy struck my home in an unsuspected way a few months ago. I gave birth to what I thought was a perfectly healthy baby in March 2018. Four months later I found myself holding that same baby who had a collapsed lung due to his intestines being in the wrong part of his body (google late onset congenital diaphragmatic hernia). This biological error had caused my small baby to struggle to breath off and on since his birth. So, there I was sitting in an emergency room after being rushed by ambulance across town with no idea about what was going on. I was holding my tiny baby who all the hospital staff just kept telling me "your son needs surgery now." Some of you can relate to the terrifying nature of suddenly realizing you actually have no control and no idea of what is happening to a person you love so much. To those of you who have never been in this position, I pray you never can relate.
Now that same feeling that I just described, the feeling of "I thought I knew what was going on but all my ideas were just destroyed in an instant" is the exact same feeling that I imagine the apostles felt when they saw Jesus die on the cross. The King of the world, well, at least the guy they thought was the king of the world just died and with him died all of their hope for their faith and mission. Jesus was not the only living being that died on Good Friday, the hopes of many, and particularly of the apostles died that day too. I remember holding my son who now had oxygen, IV fluids, an NG tube, and a heart monitor, breathing with one lung, dressed in the tiniest hospital gown I had ever seen, and just wondering "now what?" Which I imagine that in some way the apostles asked themselves that same question.
As Christians, what are we supposed to do when we are in those situations?
This is the difficult part about all of this, when tragedy strikes us, we are just like the apostles. We are standing there looking at Jesus's body on the cross and questioning everything we thought we knew. We are doubting, worrying, questioning, our emotions cannot be contained, they are ricocheting across our mind and heart.
If you remember Jesus was not shy about letting the disciples know he was going to die (Luke 18:31-33), and that it was not going to be the end of his story. Yet even though Jesus told them blatantly that he was going to die and then on the third day he was going to rise again, the apostles and Jesus's followers were all left wondering if Jesus was really who he said he was. Does anyone else not find this painfully relatable? Have you ever been struck by tragedy and just left utterly hopeless, even if just for a moment? Have you ever been in a situation that makes you question if Jesus is actually going to keep his promise to you? I know I have. I know I particularly felt that the moment I had to hand over my son to a surgeon I had just met. I know the unshakeable feeling of wondering if this is the end of it all. That moment I saw the surgeon open the double door into the operating room with my kid in her hands, I remember thinking "was that the last time I will ever hold my baby alive?" I remember turning to my husband and just collapsing. This surgery was not a routine procedure. It was complicated, long, and requiring a surgeon with experience in a surgery that is normally done days after birth.
The hope that kept my heart beating was more than hoping my son would come out alive after surgery, my hope was founded on the fact that whether or not my son was going to live or die that day, that Jesus was going to be there with me. And that hope that was given to me is because of the resurrection. Because of the resurrection I know that if you are in Christ this merely mortal life is not it, there is so much more awaiting. Tragedy will come, pain will rub against your heart, people you love will die, and the world will feel mightily unjust, but if you are in Christ, there is a hope that will carry you through it all. Like the apostles when they saw Jesus after he had risen from the dead, the hope that died in them 3 days prior was resurrected in a way that would never die again. It became an eternal hope, a hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:5).
A few years ago, I wrote a blog about how difficult it is to be a Christian on Easter. I find it interesting that the highest attending day of the year for church attendance is EASTER! Which arguably, if you’re someone who doesn’t have any particular interest in faith seems like the WORST time of year to invite someone. Am I right? "Hi! Come to church today? Why? Because I believe a human being died and ROSE FROM THE DEAD and we are going to go celebrate seemingly impossible occurrence!" Is it possible that people are attending church out of some religious obligation, yes? Or maybe it's because all of us are longing for the impossible to be true? We are all desperate for hope, especially in the midst of tragedy. This year I'm praying you taste the drink of living water and experience the hope of new beginnings. Happy Easter friends.
Maryann has made a career out of serving youth in some of the poorest neighborhoods in South Florida and Las Vegas. As a first generation American, she has a passion for helping students achieve dreams that they once saw as impossible. She hopes to continue to minister to children and their families for as long as God allows her.Maryann currently lives in Plantation, Florida with her husband and daughter.