A wise and noble friend of mine often says, "Life is hard, but it's also so much more than hard."
And I reply, "Yes, but it is hard."
And he replies, "But not only hard."
And I reply, "Yes, but..." You get the picture.
My side of the conversation is super easier to prove. In fact, at this very moment I can rattle off names of family, friends, acquaintances, and even plug myself in there, who are currently struggling financially, with serious health issues, mourning over lost loved ones and lost trust, battling with failure and those fuzzy feelings that go with it, facing self-doubt, helplessness, hopelessness, broken heartedness, and pain of various shapes, colors, degrees, and delights.
See? Hard. I win.
Rules and exceptions.
We know this, of course. The evidence is everywhere. After awhile, and simply to maintain sanity, we accept my argument without much push back. Why fight it? What's done is done. What will be will be.
Things get glitchy at this point because, if you're a Christian, you can't leave it there. God won't leave it there either. Lately, His 'not leaving it there' is getting louder. At least in my head. I have this phrase that keeps making its rounds everytime I consider all the harshness of life. It goes something like this, "Yes. But He's alive."
Easy to remember; hard to forget. Also, incredibly repetitive, like when you get, "The Final Countdown" by Europe stuck in your head.
Life is hard! Yes. But He's alive.
The harshness is real! Yes. But He's alive.
The real is confirmed! Yes. But He's alive.
Easter weekend is here and I keep thinking about the disciples and their reality. They walked with the Son of God on earth, saw the sick healed, lame walk, thousands fed, Pharisees publically humiliated.
Things took a drastic turn nearly as soon as Jesus got off that donkey.
The miracle worker stopped working miracles. The good guys started losing. The man who raised others from the dead was now dead himself. What could they have been feeling as Jesus was tortured to death on that cross? Probably hopeless. Definitely fearful. Incredibly lost. Undeniably defeated.
This was their harsh reality. It was their grave medical diagnosis, their home foreclosure, their sick child, their ending marriage, their failed dream. Jesus didn't just appear dead, He took a final breath. Done, finished, finito.
What's done was done. What would be...was.
Sunday was coming. Not all that far off, actually.
The disciples saw their Teacher and Savior buried in a tomb. But their reality didn't change God's eventuality. That tomb was already empty. Those burial clothes were already tossed aside. Even before reality said so.
The plan God had written from the beginning was already as good as done before it even started.
Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus said, "Listen, we're going up to Jerusalem, where all the predictions of the prophets concerning the Son of Man will come true. He will be handed over to the Romans and he will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit upon. They will flog him with a whip and kill him, but on the third day he will rise."
All these hardships we face are real. They aren't frivolous or minor or shrug-worthy. They're painful, excruciating at times, and overwhelmingly defeating. They're as real as real gets. So, yes. The harshness is true.
And, because of that, I think we often see the future as more of the same. Mourning that never ends. Heartache that never stops. Pain that never relents. It's hard to imagine anything different than the reality we're facing every day, over and over, without any signs of change or renewal or hope.
But He's alive. And, because of that one fact, everything can change. Everything. Even our reality.
You know what this means? It means I lost the argument.
Happy Easter, my friends. He's risen!