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Apr15TueThe miracle of Easter means you don't have to face trials on your own. April 15, 2014 by Commissioner Brian Peddle
There is a book in my personal library that always grabs my attention and prompts a momentary pause when I am browsing. It's called Where Is God When It Hurts? by Philip Yancey. Life can bring its share of pain and suffering. It seems there is no limit to the scope and impact of global tragedy, human suffering and loss. So the question that hangs in the air is more than a book title. It is a question that is asked by many who face difficult and sudden trials.
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Easter provides a response to the question. It confirms exactly how God identified with a needy world. In the blink of an eye, the promised Messiah enters the world in swaddling clothes and exits in a slave's towel. The banner over this brief, but significant, identification with humanity can be found in the words of the Apostle Paul: “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
I wish the world could see the cross of Easter as more than a religious symbol or an appropriate jewelry accessory. The cross, in its representation of the Atonement, ushers in God's redemptive plan for all mankind. It is a transformative act of love that continues to provide a link with the Almighty where his presence enables hope, brings healing and offers forgiveness.
In He Still Moves Stones, Max Lucado answers a personal question, “Where is God when I hurt?” He answers by inviting his readers to consider how God reacts to dashed hopes by reminding them of the story of Jairus (see Mark 5:21-43), how the Father feels about the sick waiting by the pool of Bethesda (see John 5:1-15) and how God speaks to lonely hearts through the Emmaus story (see Luke 24:13-35).
I fear that, for many in this present age, an Easter miracle is a long shot. The God of the universe seems distant, invisible and—worst of all—silent. Sometimes our doubts only widen the gap. We have little desire to ask questions about God, let alone pursue answers.
The formative years in my faith journey were influenced by J.B. Phillips in his book, Your God Is Too Small. He held out a challenge to my young heart to never let my faltering faith diminish the greatness of God. He showed me that I could know the Sovereign God, be aware of his presence and understand that nothing was too great for him.
The first disciples spoke boldly into an unbelieving world by inviting new converts to a risen and living Christ. They re-established faith among seeking hearts by talking about the Resurrection. This Easter miracle reveals a God who is present, journeys through life with us and promises not to be silent, but to speak his intentional will for our lives.
The Scripture verse that I am carrying with me this year is Isaiah 41:10: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
The miracle of Easter is the message of Christmas—Emmanuel, God with us. He transcends time, spanning more than two millennia, and yet he still desires to be intertwined with our journeys.
Where is God when it hurts? Consider the possibility that he is as close as the breath you breathe and is fulfilling his promise to “never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6). Consider the miracle of Easter yours to discover. Imagine the final stanza of the song, In Christ Alone, as your testimony:
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from his hand;
Till he returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.
Commissioner Brian Peddle is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.