Forgiveness and love turn suffering and anxiety into joy and hope
Published: Saturday, March 26th, 2005
T oday is Easter, the day Christians honor the “author and perfecter” of their faith, Jesus Christ, who “for the joy set before him endured the cross.” For Christians, the cross endured signifies the cost of sin, suffering and death upon humanity and God. Yet, on Easter morning grief turns to joy as Christ rises from the dead to offer the power of his new life to those who believe in him. In the process, hope overcomes anxiety, trust overcomes betrayal and life overcomes death, fulfilling the Old Testament promise that God will never fail nor forsake his people despite evil’s existence in the world. Traditional Christian theology teaches that the human struggle with sin and death began when Adam and Eve betrayed both God and each other. Sin was born into the world when the two abandoned God’s will to follow their own wisdom. The child-like trust connecting Adam and Eve to God shattered. Thereafter, betrayal, anxiety and guilt for sin paved the road of human suffering. Yet God’s love promised a solution to broken faith between God and humanity. The prophetic books of the Old Testament taught that a King and Redeemer would come to “heal the brokenhearted” and “set the captives free” from their sin. However, according to Isaiah 53, before trust could be rebuilt between God and mankind, this Redeemer must persevere though immense suffering. Called to “render himself as a guilt offering,” this Savior was betrayed by Judas. His disciples abandoned him, and the religious elite charged him with blasphemy for claiming to be the Messiah. In the end, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, condemned an innocent man to death. So God’s betrayal by humanity replays again, as the Son of God is abandoned by all in his darkest Earthly moments. Though Christ’s conviction and death lay bare the raw power of the world’s sin and betrayal, Christians would say it also reveals God’s long-suffering love for all mankind. For feeling the full force of the world’s anxiety, pain and betrayal, Christ, as only God in human form could, took judgment for world’s sins upon himself so he might set his people free from the power of guilt and shame. As a result, when men and women leave their own betrayals and sins at the foot of the cross, in faith of Christ’s resurrection and forgiveness, God’s love transforms anxiety into hope and betrayal into trust. Forgiveness, mercy and grace reign in their hearts as Christ fulfills God’s promise to never fail or forsake his people. So today, as families gather and we enjoy the spring season’s wonderful series of rebirths and renewals, we are reminded once again of the basic human need to humbly accept the love that our faith, friends and family graciously offer to us. We pray all may be able to appreciate anew that, although life can sometimes be difficult and people imperfect, forgiveness and love go a long way toward turning suffering into joy and anxiety into hope.
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