Disease. Suffering. Sleeplessness. Persecution. Loss. Mourning. Tragedy. Fear. Insecurity. Death. These are just some of the things facing members of Christian congregations across the world. It seems recently in our church’s life, we’ve experienced a great deal of suffering, disease, death, and loss. Strong believers discovered they have cancer. Some who’ve suffered for nearly a lifetime have passed away. A preaching giant and mentor trapped in his body by Alzheimer’s recently died. We do not have to look far or look long to witness difficulties and suffering in our lives or those around us.
These sorrows, difficulties, and pains can burden our hearts and steal our joy. I know with certainty some in our congregation this Easter season are bound by their sorrows and situations. But we do not have to wallow in the mire of our misfortunes or mourning. We do not have to merely exist in the midst of our sorrow or suffering. We do not have to fear and fret about our concerns or troubles. We have hope.
This Easter season, many churches will have cantatas. Others will have special evangelistic services. Some will have children’s Easter egg hunts as an outreach. Some will have sunrise services. We’re having a baptism service on Easter Sunday. These are excellent ways to worship the risen Savior and share the glorious message of Easter. Let me offer a reminder. We must remember to share that Easter is about hope.
Those with cancer can have hope because Jesus was afflicted with sickness and grief. Those who suffer pain can have hope because Jesus was bruised and beaten for our iniquities. Those facing sorrows can have hope because Jesus was a man of sorrows. And those who mourn loss can have hope because Jesus did not remain in the grave.
Easter is hope because Jesus experienced sorrow, sickness, pain, suffering, and death. Then on that first Easter Sunday morning, he emerged from the grave victorious. Ultimately, Jesus is our hope. And the message of hope this Easter is one that is sure to speak into the lives of many in our congregations. Preach the judgment Jesus experienced because of our sin. Preach the cross as God’s testament of justice and grace. Preach the resurrection as God’s victory over death. But also preach hope.
The sorrows, sicknesses, pains, and suffering can be a glorious intersection—an intersection between our lives and the oft-repeated Easter story. Our situations (especially those that trouble us) reflect our need for hope. So, this Easter find ways in your preaching and applications to intersect the sorrows and suffering of those in our congregations to the hope found in the story of Easter.