Overwhelmed by hope


Empty tomb

Originally published March 26, 2016 in the Suffolk News-Herald

Some days, it’s all just a bit overwhelming.

Terrorism, insurrection and rebellion have spread across the globe. Innocent lives are lost every day, and families are left with the gaping holes of loved ones snatched from their midst.

Divisive, bitter and disgusting political rhetoric either continues to widen the existing rift between people or simply shines a light that makes it impossible to ignore the division that already exists. One’s perspective on the matter is said to reveal his own prejudice.

And while arguments ensue over who’s to blame for the anger and contempt neighbors have for one another, they embrace leaders whose words are like shovels and picks scraping away at the sides of the chasm between them, digging it wider and deeper, ensuring they can never see the folks on the other side well enough to recognize how similar they are to themselves.

A father buries his child, senselessly murdered a few days before. Friends call for assassinations and reprisals. Violence begets more violence. Anger breeds bitterness, which sows hatred and destruction. And the cycle continues.

Brokenness and suffering abound. Fear and loathing make themselves trusted companions. Love and compassion outside of one’s own family are so rare as to be suspicious where they’re found.

Our world is, quite frankly, not so different than the broken one in which Jesus Christ walked 2,000 years ago. There was animosity between peoples, there were political rifts and there were class struggles. Fear and resentment and hatred ran rampant.

And, much as they said they wanted it, when the people of that time and place saw what true love looked like — how it acted toward its neighbor, the sacrifices it required — they became even angrier, because what it revealed about the darkness in their own hearts was not something they wanted to face. So they required the ultimate sacrifice of love — they nailed Him to a cross.

And again, we are reminded that we are not so different from those people in that time. Faced with the very embodiment of love, the only real answer to the problems that destroy us, we demand that the murderer be released and that the lamb be slaughtered. We celebrate sinfulness and vilify virtue. We crucify the Savior and wonder why we’re so lost.

And then, amazed, we find an empty tomb where He had been laid. And we realize that, along with love, He gave us hope. Real love in this broken, hate-full world is unexpected. Real hope is, quite simply, undeserved.

Sometimes the cares of this world can seem too much to bear. But what’s truly overwhelming is the grace of God, who stepped into all this brokenness and offered Himself as the cure, who brought healing through a cross and hope through an empty tomb.

Today, be overwhelmed by that.

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