Sour Patch Kid. A name we lovingly call our 8-year-old son because he has absolutely mastered the art of being a little sour but then all kinds of sweet (can I get an amen for all of those boy moms out there) and it's also the name of a delicious candy that my sister, Erika, always loved. A candy that I have a stash of here at home and from time to time, when I'm thinking of her and missing her, I will grab a piece and enjoy it in her honor. Yesterday was one of those days. And as I sat there in my quiet kitchen, the kids playing together in the yard and Casey working in the other room, I couldn't help but think about how much this past year has been so very like a Sour Patch Kid. From the moments I will never forget and the moments I wish I never would have had to experience, to the countless memories made and moments full of laughter that fill my heart with such incredible joy. A little bit sour! But also oh so sweet!
It's Easter Weekend. Ressurection Sunday! A time we remember such a powerful moment in history that, much like 2020 has been for me, started with incredible suffering and great sorrow but set the stage for the most amazing victory to have ever happened before or since. As I sit here thinking about the Easter Holiday and all that it means, I am just overwhelmed by the Lord's goodness. To imagine Him enduring the rejection, the torment, the pain. The way He suffered for me and for you with no expectation of anything in return but simply out of unrelenting love and a deep desire and hope that we would one day choose to surrender our lives to Him and His abundant love, grace, and mercy. That is a level of love that my limited human brain cannot fathom. A love I have never and will never deserve. A love that brings hope to the hopeless. Peace to the broken. Joy to the burdened. There are so many things to reflect on and rejoice over all throughout Jesus' life, death, resurrection, and sacrifice but today I can't help but be extra thankful for the way He showed us what it is to walk a road marked with suffering.
I am a person that can generally see the silver linings pretty easily. I truly love life and tend to make the most of any situation. But this past week I've struggled. I've had to fight to see the Lord's goodness amidst loss and I've questioned and asked God Why! Seeing the silver linings of the loss of my sister isn't easy and finding peace in the unanswered questions seems almost impossible at times. However, through it all, I find such comfort in knowing that my heavenly father isn't just walking with me through it all. No. He actually walked this journey of sorrow long before I did. He's walking with me with a deep understanding of every feeling i've felt and every thought and emotion I am wrestling with! He showed me what it is to sit at His Fathers feet, begging for deliverance (Matthew 26:39). He showed me what it looks like to look into the face of a mother, HIS mother Mary, as she watched Him, her son, suffer and die (John 19:26). He showed me what it is to stay so focused on His Father that even in His suffering He stayed the course until the very end, declaring three powerful words in John 19:30 - It. Is. Finished.
When Jesus, in the midst of His greatest suffering, uttered those three simple yet powerful words He changed the course of history forever! When Jesus gave up His spirit to His Father that night He closed the book on life as it had been and started a whole new story that is still being written today! A story of grace and redemption. A story of strength, faith, victory, and even sorrow. You see when Jesus said "It is finished" He wasn't saying pain and suffering and loss were coming to an end. It is clear, especially in this season of incredible loss we are experiencing as a nation and a world in this midst of this pandemic, that those things are very much still a part of our life and story. My friends, that day He overcame something even more powerful than our temporary sufferings. That day He overcame death itself! When the lights went out and all seemed lost - Hope was waiting on the horizon. And that very hope is still alive and available to us today!
We were given such a gift in Jesus. A gift that we will never fully understand the depth of! Yes, He gave us the gift of salvation and forgiveness and the hope of eternity in Heaven with Him, but He also gave us the gift of showing us how to walk the road marked with pain, suffering, and loss and still stay about His Father's business. He showed us that no matter the journey on earth - the road ultimately leads to the same great victory! The victory found in the tears of sorrow shed at the foot of the cross and in the shouts of celebration and praise found at the empty tomb!
Lord, help us declare today, on this Easter weekend and every day we have breath -
"O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?"
(1 Corinthians 15:55)
2020 may have started out pretty sour. But because of the incredible sacrifice of Jesus, I know that the end result will be nothing less than amazingly sweet victory! How do I know? Because He has already won! And no matter what struggles and sufferings I may endure on this Earth I know that THE CROSS HAS THE FINAL WORD!!