John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
When the spectre of death comes close – due to the loss of a loved one, or even someone within our circle of acquaintances – many people have their feet taken out from under them. The life we move through, we share with others, we delight in, we talk about, we plan for, is suddenly revealed to be a far more tenuous anchor than we imagined. Confronted by the tomb, or burial, dying appears so permanent, so asphyxiating, so dark, and we can feel trapped in the confines of the fear and grief it promotes.
To me, the current coronavirus scare creates a similar feeling in people. No doubt the sense of being trapped at home can be constrictive and suffocating, certainly not helping things. However, as the world works its way through this threat, those who believe in a risen Lord are encouraged to have a vastly different perspective. Paul uplifted the Thessalonians by saying believers are not to grieve as those who have no hope. Death, as scary as it seems, is not the final word. We should not fear it. This is why we should find so much joy in Easter which is Christ’s victorious resurrection from the dead! Because he lives, we know we too shall live. We know we will transition through death’s darkness into the light and life of Christ. Our seasonal change intentionally reflects God’s promise of life through faith in His Son. After the cold, grey lifelessness of winter, the beauty and irrepressible life of spring bursts through, impossible to challenge. Winter will never have the final word.
Jesus laid this gospel truth before Martha after the death of her brother Lazurus, and asked her to trust his power to bring life in the seemingly unbreakable grasp of death. He asks us the same question. Her fervent trust was met with Him astonishingly resurrecting her brother. Jesus easily defeats death, and brings unbounded joy to Mary and Martha. The life Christ brings to us cannot be stopped – even by a virus.
With this in mind, the EPC has called all of us to join in a day of fasting and prayer with the Presbyterian Church of America and the Anglican Church in North America on the 10th of April, Good Friday. We are to cry out collectively for the Lord’s grace and mercy in this time of unsettling trouble. Call out for our Great Physician to eradicate this mess, guide all who lead, strengthen and direct health workers, bring healing, and show Jesus is our lone source of salvation. It is most fitting that we pray on the day Christ’s blood was shed on the cross so we might find life in His atoning death. Forgoing a meal or two to sup on His grace can bring untold spiritual nourishment for us all.
May the Lord turn countless hearts towards Him as we get on our knees, and may the promise of Easter bring unbridled confidence in what He will accomplish.
In the joyful hope of Christ’s resurrection,