Easter Helps Us Hang On

Kids don’t care if you get enough sleep.

When they are babies, they scream about every two hours.  People who say that they slept like a baby have never been in the same house with a baby.

When the kids get just a little older, they come into your room in the middle of the night and stand over you as you sleep, waiting for you to wake up so that they can tell you that you forgot to give them an extra blanket.  I’ve almost died six times and five of them have been because of my kids waking me up this way.

This is one of the worst ways to wake up.

One of the worst ways.

My mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in the early 90s.  Her doctors gave her a bunch of videos and brochures, told her to buy some exercise equipment and gave her pretty much every new, experimental drug they could get their hands on.

“Mrs. Sanders, were going to prescribe these tiny gray particles to you and see if they help.  They’ve proven themselves very effective with cats.”

“Is that kitty litter?”

“Just take it.”

This is why they call it a medical practice.

All of those new medications and the adjustments that came along with them really did a number on my mom’s body.  There were many times, late at night, when her voice calling my name would function as my alarm clock.  When I ran to check on her I would usually find her stuck in a chair or on the side of her bed.  Her toes were curled under and her legs felt like rocks.  Her face gave me a pretty good description of the pain that she was experiencing.

I’ll be thinking about those rude awakenings in the middle of the night a lot this weekend.  I’ll also be thinking about friends who are caring for their own parents as they undergo chemo, radiation and blood transfusions.  I’ll think about the people in my church who, because of sickness and aging, are trying to figure out how to be parents to their parents.  I’ll think about fathers and mothers who suffer as they watch their sons and daughters suffer from cancer or the effects of some crazy accident.

And I’ll think about the One who, in his victory over the grave, has secured that same victory for his people and guaranteed their release from sin and death.

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                         1 Corinthians 15:50-57 (ESV)

There’s a good chance that you are trying to figure out how to care for a sick loved one.  Or maybe you are the sick loved one.  Whatever the circumstances, I hope that the events of this weekend help you to hang on.

Don’t listen to the crooked preachers on TV who promise health, wealth and happiness on this earth. Jesus didn’t die for that.  He died to atone for the sins of his people and to set us free from sin and death.  And while he certainly can and does bring healing on earth, we have to continue to trust in him when he chooses not to.  But our trust is not based on a hunch or mere faith for faith’s sake.

It’s based on an empty tomb.

And it’s based on a promise that springs forth from Jesus’ victory over the grave.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4 (ESV)